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!

 

BZ

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Fanfiction – Pros and Cons

Hi Blogland,

When people hear the word ‘Fanfiction’, one of two things usually happens. Either, they roll their eyes, shake their head, and suddenly get very angry on the behalf of content creators. Or, their eyes light up, they grin, and probably blush as they rush to ask what fandoms you’re a part of.

I am an avid fan of Fanfiction. I’ve been reading Fanfiction since I was a teen, in the early days of fanfiction.net (or ff.net as it was to be known). It was a wondrous time, with hours spent searching out the perfect stories that would expand upon settings, plot points, and characters I had come to love so much. Like many in my generation, my gateway fandom (per urban dictionary, the community that surrounds a particular movie/tv show/book etc.,) was Harry Potter. Specifically, stories where Hermione and Draco were romantic interests for one another.

Draco disapproves
You’re not fooling anyone, Draco, we know the truth.

Over the last 15 years or so, my interests and tastes have grown and changed, as they do. Over the years I read not only Harry Potter stories, but Pirates of the Caribbean stories, Pride and Prejudice stories, Pitch Black stories, as well as Moonlight (the ill-fated vampire crime show of 2008), Veronica Mars, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age stories.

There are so many stories that I still remember to this day. Swashbuckling tales following a young Jack Sparrow, sprawling narratives that explored Elizabeth and Darcy as husband and wife, stories that ventured to guess how Riddick would overcome the  threat of the Necromongers. Fanfiction was a place for fans to let their imaginations play with the characters and settings they already loved. And it was an outlet for budding writers to learn their craft by mimicking the style and tone of the original author, or by tweaking the established elements into their own voices.

I dabbled with writing fanfic as a teen, and though I was courageous in sharing my early work, I never really committed to it. There are a slew of unfinished stories loitering on my ff.net profile, and so they shall remain, a testament to where I started and who I was when I was 15 and finding my legs. And though my writing was riddled with false starts, I never truly stopped reading.

Now, so many years and much more writing experience later, I’m not only a reader but an author on the much more navigable Archive of Our Own (or, AO3).

This leap, from quiet fan camouflaged in the anonymity of the internet, to active participant and creator was a daring one. I was terrified to share my first completed story, but I was proud of it too. Plus, there was a serious need in the community.

andromeda

Mass Effect Andromeda had just released in March, and by mid-April most of us had finished the game and were desperate for more. There was a wealth of settings and characters that we couldn’t wait to explore further, and certain developments in the game were left dangling for future sequels.

But, fandom is rarely patient.

I scoured AO3 and ff.net for anything that would satisfy my craving for more time in the world of Andromeda. And while I found several that were to my liking, it still wasn’t enough. I found myself thinking up my own scenarios and before long I was writing them. And then I was sharing them. And then, the craziest thing happened.

People responded. Like, a lot. And the responses were overwhelmingly positive.

After years of writing fiction in a vacuum, where the only feedback was found in classroom workshops, reading comments on my fic felt like stepping out into the first rays of summer sun.

Not only did people like what I wrote, but they liked it enough to leave detailed comments and to reply when I responded to them. When I admitted short-comings, readers would offer to help me through them, and one such offer led me to Tumblr.

My whole internet life changed with the decision to create a Tumblr account. Not only did most of my readers/reviewers have Tumblrs of their own, but I was able to share links to my work that they would then share with their followers. My readers could ask me questions, tag me in games, and gift me with art and creations of their own. Suddenly, I went from the solitary writer, alone in her study, to a content creator people within the fandom recognized and enjoyed interacting with.

Now, this all happened on a relatively small scale. There are fanfic series that have thousands and thousands of hits, with hundreds of bookmarks. I am not that writer. My fandom is relatively small, but it is fierce and devoted, and frequently overlaps into other mutual fandoms.

This led me to branch out from Mass Effect Andromeda, and to experiment writing other characters in other worlds like Dragon Age and the original Mass Effect trilogy. When I reached over 5000 hits on my longest fic I hosted a giveaway, and wrote stories that really challenged me. Stories that involved other people’s original characters (OCs in fandom parlance) in situations and relationships that I wouldn’t have necessarily put them in.

Fanart 1
artist credit, top left: secondarysidecharacter, bottom left: vixilancia, middle left: chatnoir-art right side: blacksheep33512

By posting my fanfic and sharing it in an active community I was able to interact directly with my readers. I answered reader questions, took prompts for flash pieces (known as drabbles), and my personal favorite, I received fanart of my series. People who read my story liked it enough to draw scenes or moments from it and share them with me. Waking up to a notice that one of your followers has drawn something for you, completely unsolicited is probably one of the best feelings ever.

So, obviously, I tend to view fanfiction very positively. But, there are some negatives to being an active fanfic author.

For instance, it can be very time consuming. This last year I wrote 264,850 words of fanfiction. That includes every plotted installment of my large series, every random drabble that was prompted on Tumblr, and the occasional themed weeks of stories for various holidays and fandom celebrations. I still have another fic planned in my series and another Dragon Age story I want to write. The possibilities seem to be endless when it comes to fanfic, and I honestly think it’s because writing in an active community is so social.

Writing my own original content is a labor of love, devotion, and solitary obsession. It’s something I do alone, for myself alone, until such a time I think it’s good enough to share with someone else. My experience with fanfiction has been a very positive one, full of encouragement and mutual obsession. I’ve made friends online because of our shared interests. And that makes it hard to walk away and devote less time to fandom and more time to my own content.

What started out as a small, four chapter story turned into a giant series with more than five installments, including a short story collection. I was obsessed, and had the most output I’ve ever had in any writing capacity. But, I also didn’t get anything done on my own content hardly at all last year. It’s a difficult balance to maintain.

fanart 2
Artist credit, all: jozstanko-art

Another potential pitfall of fanfiction is getting pulled into fandom disputes. Fans are just that, fanatics. We feel very strongly about the various ships (short for relationships) and characters. We have opinions, lots of them, and they don’t always jive with everyone else’s. So, occasionally there’s drama within the community, and I’ve seen the fallout be quite harsh. Luckily I’ve avoided most of the conflicts, and have yet to be the source of anyone’s ire. Thank goodness.

To me, the benefits of my fanfic experience far outweigh the possible dilemmas. This past year taught me how to interact with a fanbase in a direct and genuine way, and to contribute quality content consistently. Now, as I continue my long series I’m also editing my first novel, teaching myself how to juggle the two projects and keep my output on a reliable schedule.

2017 was a very educational year, one I hope to expand on this year by continuing to interact with my fandom while pursuing my writing and editing goals. With lots of hard work, and even more luck, I hope I’ll be able to use my newfound skills interacting with readers of my own original work someday soon.

Best,

 

BZ

 

 

Wait… I Wrote How Much?

Hi guys!

I just wanted to stop by and share something pretty incredible with you.

So, remember when I said I was reading and writing a ton of fanfiction? Well, that trend continued through the month of April. I’m pretty sure I just wrote more words in a month than I ever have before.

As of 4/30/17, I wrote a total of 31,113 words. Of fanfiction. Jesus Christ. That is a TON of writing, the most I’ve ever done in so short a time. I’m simultaneously impressed and disgusted/disappointed. Why haven’t I pumped out so many words for my own original content?

Granted, fanfic is “easier” since there’s very little world-building or slogging through early character development. That’s mostly done by the time you get your hands on the content.  I mean, you should still have those things, but the amount of discovering and fleshing out are considerably less. Which is the vast majority of work I’ve been doing on From the Quorum.

So, in a way, this has been a nice exercise. One that  I have no plans of stopping anytime soon. I’ve got another 3 chapters (at least) to write for this particular story, a oneshot (i.e. short story) outlined, and then another full fic planned after that.

But, if I can keep up this pace, that means I should be able to fall back into my own original works once Mass Effect lets me go. Right? That’s what I’m telling myself, anyways.

Saturday was the release party for the third issue of The Audient Void, and it was awesome. There is some really great fiction and poetry in this issue, and the artwork is fantastic as always. The event coincided with Independent Bookstore Day, which meant there were a lot of people there who might not have attended otherwise, and there were snacks and extra special merchandise on hand.

Oh! There was also a cool marionette show, with an original play by Adam Bolivar, that was really quite entertaining!Jack o lantern

But, my favorite part of the event (aside from the customary after party) was that I thought up a new story while I was there. Just a short story, and I won’t go into details about it here, but I hope to write it this year and submit it to the A.V.

We’ll see where I’m at in a few months. If I’m still writing at the pace I am now, I have no doubt I’ll get everything done that I set out to this year, even with this detour. Remember, I planned to fall off the face of the Earth for about two months after  Andromeda came out, so I’m still on schedule.

Anyway, just wanted to share with you all that I am a writing machine these days, even if it’s just fanfic.

See you around,

 

BZ

Well, Hello There!

Hi Blogland,

Huh. It feels kind of weird to be back. I’m still not promising anything, or even pretending I’m back in any sort of routine. I’m not. I still play Mass Effect just about every day, and I’m reading (and writing) way more fanfiction than I ought to.

But, I thought about From the Quorum for the first time in a month the other day. I call that progress. I also felt a pang of guilt/longing for The Steel Armada. We’re getting there.

The whole point of this was to keep me from falling into the spiral of guilt that I normally feel when I hyper-focus on something. When I start feeling guilty for doing things that I enjoy, I tend to further procrastinate the tasks I’ve sacrificed in order to hyper-focus in the first place.

Right now, I tell myself that writing fanfiction is better than not writing at all. And since I’ve put over 6k words into this one fic just in April, I’d say that’s damn good.

Also, The Audient Void #3 is out! Get you one! Available at the Book Bin in downtown Salem, or online at their Facebook page.

My reading has seriously slowed, but a steady stream of fanfiction keeps me going. I fully intend to pick things back up sometime in May. I promise. Pinky swear. All that good stuff.

Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve applied for another full time position with the library. I know better than to assume anything at this point, but I’ve learned a lot in the last 9ish months since my last interview with the city, and I have a lot more confidence in myself than I did even four months ago. Keep your fingers crossed for me just the same, huh?

Thanks for sticking with me through this gaming fog. The fact that I’ve come up for air is promising. I look forward to talking at you all on a regular basis again soon.

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 11

Hi all,

Gonna keep this brief. I think. I wanted to let you know that  I’ve been using the Windows laptop exclusively now for about a month. I like it. I’m acclimating, and in general it’s much more reliable than my poor, ancient Macbook. It was the right decision to transfer over.

Last week’s goals were extremely straightforward. Publish two blog posts, and write the Mass Effect Fanfic.

Well,  I didn’t publish two posts, but I wrote over 3,000 words of fic. Plus another 1500 tonight. So that’s going well. I’ve had a few views, multiple follows, and one review so far, which feels really good for only two chapters.

I just posted chapter 3 tonight, so we’ll see how that goes. If you’re interested here’s a link. However, keep in mind that this is fanfiction. It’s barely edited, and not very indicative of my original work. I own nothing in it, it is purely my imagination running wild in a world I love. It’s how I’ve coped with the waiting for Andromeda.

Which is here TOMORROW!!!!! So long world, I’ll see you again in a few weeks/months, depending on how obsessed I become with it. Therefore, I will not be setting any goals for next week, unless you count “not leaving the house until Sunday”.

Until then Blogland,

BZ

Goals Summary wk 10

Hi Blogland,

Just wanted to let you know that I am still here. If you’re following me on Goodreads, then you know that I haven’t read anything at all in the last week. All my spare time is spent researching Mass Effect Andromeda before the EA Early Access opens on Thursday, and playing The Witcher 3 to keep my hands and mind busy.

Geralt
Sorry, Geralt. It’s not you, it’s me.

I did manage to edit a chapter of The Steel Armada last week, so at least there’s that.

And I took the dog on his first hike! We went to Silver Falls State Park, and though it was packed, we had a great time. The dog definitely has a lot to learn, and we need to work on socializing him with other dogs and more people. He gets a little too excited. But, we had fun with good friends on one of the nicest days Oregon has seen in months.

Simons first hike
Just a girl and her Doggo

But, the edits and the hike were the only thing I accomplished last week. And this week I get my hands on the first 10 hours of Mass Effect Andromeda. I’m not even going to kid myself with any sort of goals.

… Although, I was challenged to write a bit of Mass Effect fanfiction. A coworker suggested that I write a piece about a Krogan pastry chef who falls in love with his Salarian coworker. If you’re not into the series, that sentence won’t mean anything to you, but it made me laugh so hard that I’m committed to writing it now. Maybe I’ll do that this week to tide me over once I’m locked out of the Early Access.

I promise, if it turns out worth a damn I’ll post it on ff.net, and link it here.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t completely forgotten you yet. But, expect that next Monday will be my last post for awhile, as I’ll be living in the Andromeda galaxy come Tuesday.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ