Book Review – This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

Blogland,

This book was not on my radar until I finished reading the Shades of Magic series. V.E. Schwab pretty much blew my mind with those books, and left me with a desperate need to read more of her work. I looked at a couple of reviews and decided that the Monsters of Verity series would be the right series to start with in my quest to read her entire bibliography.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

this savage song

Verity is a city cut in half. South City, where people band together to fight back the monsters, and North City where the people pay for protection from Callum Harker who brought the monsters to heel. Civil war split the city down what’s called The Seam, where violence overflowed the world. Violent acts lead to the birth of literal monsters. There’s even a little song to help you remember them!

Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw. 
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.

So, a breakdown for you, because I found the monsters fascinating. The Corsai are… scary. They’re made of shadow, teeth and claws, as the song would lead you to believe. They hate UV light and will literally tear you to shreds. The Malchai are like vampires on crack. They have a mouth full of super sharp needlelike teeth and bright red eyes, and though they are weaker in the daylight, they can move around in it. Then there’s the Sunai, the rarest of them all.

August Flynn, one half of the two-perspective narration, is the youngest of the only three Sunai in Verity.  The eldest Sunai believes they are akin to avenging angels, sent to reap the souls of sinners and cleanse the city. But August doesn’t want to be an angel, all he’s ever wanted is to be human. And when word reaches South City that Kate Harker, daughter of North City’s mob boss-esque leader, is back in town, he finally gets his chance.

What could be more human than going to high school?

Kate Harker, the other half of this duo, is a quintessential problem child. She’s burned (in one case, literally) through boarding school after boarding school until her father finally lets her come home. Now is her chance to prove that she isn’t weak, that she deserves to be in Verity, and that she is the rightful heir of Callum Harker.

But she didn’t plan on making friends with the quiet boy with a violin and one hell of a secret. Just like August didn’t intend to actually like Kate, he was just supposed to spy on her.

Hot damn, what a premise!

What I loved:

  • The monsters!!! They are just familiar enough that I’m not confused by them or get them confused with one another, but they’re new too. They are scary in new ways, and I just found them really interesting.
  • August! I love his complexity, his inner-turmoil and how much he struggles with the concept of what he is versus who he is. I also love that, though music is the Sunai method of feeding on souls, he also seems to just legitimately love music. His attachment to his violin goes beyond the fact that he needs it to feed. He cares about it. It’s an extension of himself.
  • Kate. She reminded me a lot of Lila Bard from Shades of Magic, which is never a bad thing. She’s angry, she has a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. But, despite her tough act and her gritty resolve, she isn’t cold. She wants to be, but she isn’t there yet. It’s that humanity in the face of monsters that makes her likable.
  • The music. Music is super important to this series, and I think Schwab’s writing reflects that. She’s a wonderful writer, I learned that with Shades of Magic, but I do feel like she upped her prose game with this book. There were a couple lines that made me pause and reread them, and there’s a lyrical quality that echoes throughout most of the book. I came away from each reading session feeling impressed.

What I didn’t love:

  • The beginning was a little slow. I get that there’s world building to be done and character development has to happen somewhere. But I wished we’d got to August and Kate in school sooner. I don’t really know if that’s a reasonable complaint, but there it is.
  • It felt a little… YA-y. Okay, this complaint ISN’T reasonable. It is a YA book after all. But, especially in those first 100 pages, everything felt too familiar. Almost cliché. I haven’t read much YA in the last five years or so, so maybe I’m just out of touch with the market, but it felt a little trope-y. Then the book shifts once Kate and August meet, and from there things really find their stride and I became immersed in the story.

So there you have it. A little slow to start, but ultimately a really great book with high stakes, amazing characters, and a super imaginative world and premise. Once I got through the first 100 pages, I was hooked. Thanks to Schwab’s previously fantastic works, I trusted her to give me an experience I would enjoy. I’m glad I did.

I’m on to the sequel already and am enjoying it so far. I’ll be back soon to talk about the state of the blog in the first half of the year.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

A Night to Remember

Yes, Hi. This is me just letting you know that the Snow Patrol concert was everything I could have ever hoped for. I am voiceless and harder of hearing today, and it was worth it.

Please enjoy these videos that someone else took last night:

I’ll be reliving these songs for weeks to come. I already wish I could go back in time and experience last night all over again. Instead I’ll just have to wait until Snow Patrol comes back around again.

Now, then. Back to my “vacation”.

 

BZ

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

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 14

Hi Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Anniversary celebrations, good news announcements, and plenty of work to get done.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Saga
  • Read Binti: Home
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Barely. But YES! This chapter was really difficult for me, and was probably about 95% rewrites. These last few weeks have seen no editing because I wasn’t sure how to fix this one chapter, and now that it’s done I have a much clearer path for the chapters ahead!
  • Finish reading Saga
    • Yep! I didn’t expect volume 8 to end as it did, especially after the heartbreak of volume 7. I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Read Binti: Home
    • Yep! Finished it last night and will hopefully get the review done before I leave for the coast on Friday.
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
    • Yeppers! Got a good start on chapter 3 with 593 words.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Chickity-check. This is the one thing I am super diligent about completing.

Weekly Word Count: 2,971

Overall, not too shabby. I would have liked to get Chapter 9 of The Steel Armada edited earlier on in the week, but I’ll take what I can get. I experienced a really rough “block” with this rewrite. It seemed that no matter how I approached it, I couldn’t come up with a solution. I do not like that feeling. I’m planning on posting an “Editing Check-in” of sorts once I finish revising Chapter 10, so I’ll talk more about my experiences then.

Graphic novels are a lifesaver when I really want to read, but don’t have time to commit to something big. Saga is always a delight, and right now I’m making my way through the Dresden Files comics. I love Harry, so seeing all my favorite characters in illustrations is wonderful.

Progress on Sanctuary is slow and steady, which is pretty much exactly what I want. I’m getting a sense for where the story is headed, and building up that backlog of chapters like I planned. Feels good.

Next Week?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

binti homeI plan to post the Binti: Home review on Thursday or Friday morning before I leave for the coast. There’s no WiFi at the hotel so you won’t hear from me over the weekend at all. In fact, I’m planning on keeping my phone on airplane mode while I’m gone. Which just means I will have SO MUCH to talk about when I get back!

Hopefully I can use conference time/downtime to work on The Steel Armada. I’m still torn about which laptop to take. I have this dumb two laptop situation until Scrivener 3 becomes available on Windows. So while my PC has Draft 2 of TSA, all my edits are being done on my old-as-dirt MacBook because Scrivener 2 has Revision Mode. Since The Steel Armada is my main project right now, I’m thinking I’ll take the Mac. But, if I get inspired and want to work on From the Quorum or something new, I won’t have my “current” computer. Or the internet to use Google Drive.

Ugh. Can Scrivener 3 just be out already???

The Dresden Files graphic novels will fly by, and honestly I’ll probably have them done by tomorrow night. I’ll finish Madhu’s pages tomorrow night or Thursday, and then I’m just packing and prepping for the conference. Madhu and I are carpooling, so my Corolla gets a spa day in honor of our guest. I even built a playlist of Writer/Book themed songs for the drive!

agatha christie roomAnd then we’ll be at the coast, wining and dining with writer types and learning all the things! We’re sharing the Agatha Christie room, which has an amazing view, a fireplace, and a balcony! It’s going to be raining and windy the whole time, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying the beach.

I’ve got a handful of writing/book themed shirts for the weekend, I’ll bring minimal makeup since folks will be taking photos, and a notebook and a slew of pens will round it all out. Binti: The Night Masquerade will probably be my book for the weekend, though I might bring a backup in case I finish it too quickly.

Gotta be prepared!

Anyway, I’m basically bursting with all this excitement! I can’t wait to have this amazing weekend and get to tell you all about next week!

I’ll be back soon with the Binti: Home review.

Until then, 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.
18707-community-troy-and-abed-in-the-morning

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

The Comedown

I feel worn out. I’m not sure if it’s just the final comedown from all this wedding excitement, or if I’ve just reached the maximum amount of social exertion. It has been a very active week, going out with friends nearly every night. And, thanks to weird scheduling, I haven’t written anything new. I’ve got some editing done, but no writing.

I aim to change that today. Though my time is still short. I’m still reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ and haven’t made nearly the progress I would like; only 176 pages in.

Anyway, music is pumping along the umbilical cord that is my headphones, extending a lifeline and an escape. With headphones in the world around me fades out, leaving me alone in my head to coax characters to life.

I don’t feel like writing, if I’m honest. But, right now, I don’t feel like much of anything. I feel grey. I’m not sad. But I’m not happy, or even content. Nor am I angry or excited. I just am.

And tired.

Keep an eye out for a new page. I’ve considered it for awhile now, and realized that it’s something I should have included from the outset of this blog. Almost three years later I’m finally including it.

Anyway, I’ve got work to do. See you around.

BZ

Mid-Winter Meh’s.

My brain is jumpy today.

One moment I’m considering a trip to the gym, the next I’m munching carrots in my Starbucks lobby, going over the last segment of chapter two.

I like where it’s going, but it still feels incredibly slow. But, this isn’t writing short fiction anymore. Chapters are long. Hell, the chapters I’m writing now are longer than most of my short fiction. So, I can’t tell if the scenes are in fact slow, or if I’m just letting my short story writer show.

This past weekend was gorgeous. Sunshine and blue skies and a temperature hanging in the high 40s. Not bad for January. But this week Oregon is back, reminding all of us just who’s in charge here.

Dense mercury clouds spit rain against my window as a brisk wind tears at the barren trees across the street.

Is it summer yet?

I’m feeling cold and a little stir-crazy. Cooped-up. I want to go tanning, to absorb more than my fair share of UV, but with my new cartilage piercing, it’s just not a good idea. Maybe in a couple of weeks.

I feel like nothing is ever quite enough. I’m never warm enough. The music is never loud enough. I never get enough hours at work, but I never have enough time off. I don’t write enough, and that one’s true. I’m in a constant state of quandary.

But, this seems to be normal for this time of year. It’s just my mid-winter blues. Though I’m not really blue. Not sad at all, just tired and irritable. Frustrated. For no other reason than there isn’t enough sunshine.

But, I’m here today, and I’m looking forward to finishing this chapter. Over 1,000 words to go  to make that happen, but I have about three hours to do it. If I’m good, and I focus, it should happen.

Plus, the next scene is where the ball really gets rolling. A new murder to add to the string Whit’s investigating, and this one right under his nose!

Right after I nom on a Spinach Feta Wrap.

Later Blogland,

 

BZ

The Leaky Faucet Theory

All right. I’m back at Starbucks, on what could be described as a pseudo-day off. I don’t technically work, but I do have a supervisor meeting over the lunch hour.

So, I’m sitting here attempting to use my time wisely. Iced coffee is just beginning to pump through me and my ‘Cards’ playlist is swimming through my ears.

Since I’ve moved to Oregon, every piece I’ve written has an attached soundtrack. A playlist of songs that, either through the lyrics or the actual music, make me think about the writing.

The playlist for ‘Vessels’ had a lot of Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars with some Incubus sprinkled in for good measure.

This playlist is a bit different, but it’s working. Way more varied than the last playlist. The Civil Wars, Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, The Heavy, AFI, Cage the Elephant, just to name a few.

As a test I had coworkers listen to the playlist after we closed, and asked them what they thought the story was about. Generally they were confused, but came away with a sense of the wild west and outlaws.

Which was close enough. The steampunk element was lost to them, reflected in AFI and Nine Inch Nails.

Music is a funny thing. And I take it more seriously than most people I know. Though I love reading and writing, obviously, I call Music my religion. Music is what I turn to when I feel lost, when I need an outlet I can turn it up and scream along. When I’m happy there are key artists who make repeat appearances, like Snow Patrol.

And while I can play instruments, its not the creative outlet I seek. I can play trumpet, piano and guitar, but very rarely do I feel the need to play. And if I do, I don’t compose. I play someone else’s music that really spoke to me.

I’m starting to believe that creative energy is like a water faucet. The more you tap it, the less comes out of each tap.

Trevor has recently taken up drawing. He says that he tried in high school and was awful at it, so he gave up. But, he’s been planning out projects, drawing nerdy mash-ups for potential t-shirt ideas. And you know what?

He’s pretty good!

He has zero training, he’s just going on his gut, and it’s working for him. I’m urging him to take a class in the fall, and he just might, since he enjoys it so much.

And I’m reminded of how I used to draw. I loved drawing in high school. But then I danced, choreographing pieces and learning other student’s choreography.

It wasn’t until college, after I’d broken my foot and decided to stop dancing, that I started writing.

And so I return to the faucet analogy. I feel like my creative energy is limited. But, if I only tap it for one project at a time, I can never run out. If I try to write a novel and draw, neither one will get finished.

Also like a tap, you need to leave it leaking, so that it won’t freeze. That’s what reading and drawing and listening to music does for me. I can take in the creative elements from each one and feel my mind absorb them, and start applying them to whatever I’m working on.

I’m curious to see what others think of this analogy. Does this apply to your creative processes, Blogland?

 

Anyway, yesterday’s work on the novel was decent. I only wrote about 250 words of chapter 2, but I outlined the entire novel. 16 chapters and an Epilogue. A lot of plot details that I hadn’t known were discovered yesterday, and I’m really excited for them. Subplots are growing and making themselves heard.

Like learning that Mal is a little bat-shit. That he’s keeping a strong front, but he’s hurting too. He lost his twin sister, but he’s a leader, and he’s trying to keep his people unified and safe, all while helping Whit take care of himself and his daughter; Mal’s niece.

Like learning that there’s a slave trade, and that’s why Whit’s daughter is kidnapped.

Or that Mel, Whit’s deceased wife, was planning a sort of revolution for her people, and that’s why she was murdered.

Or that Cora was once owned, and escaped. That’s why she’s so incredibly secretive about her abilities.

So, you see, yesterday was actually quite productive. Even if the word count doesn’t reflect that. And I’m already more concerned with word count than I should be. I don’t know why, but this novel is outlined at just about 50k words. Now, ‘Vessels’ was almost 10k words longer than its outline suggested, and I’m guessing ‘Cards’ will follow that pattern. But that’s still only 60k.

That’s a pretty small adult novel. Because this definitely isn’t YA. ‘Vessels’ is, and can use that label to justify its size. But, why can’t I write longer works? I keep asking myself that, and I know the answer.

Brandon Sanderson said that if you read novels and want to write novels, then write novels. Practice writing novels by WRITING NOVELS.

I have only written one novel. But I’ve written and read and practiced short stories for years now. I’ve never had a problem with writing over the word limit. I am good at concise.

So, I’m practicing. And, I think it’s working. This project is bigger than the last one, so it should follow that the project after this will be longer than this one.

I’m sure hoping so.

Anyway, enough blither-blather. I’ve got a novel to write!

 

BZ

The (Triumphant?) Return!

Sorry about the gap between posts. Holidays at Starbucks can be a bit all-consuming. Here’s the skinny on the last month or so.

I celebrated my 24th birthday by getting a new tattoo, Doctor Who themed for you curious types.

I stopped biting my nails, a habit I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Let me tell you, having nails makes simple things difficult. Like typing. I feel as if I’ve had to learn how to type all over again, and I’m not doing so well. Also, now I understand why some people sound as if they’re mashing a keyboard; their nails force them to. Also, opening anything with a pull tab is damn near impossible.

I visited Arizona. And while it was a good trip, it reminded me of why we moved in the first place. After being away for over a year I’d begun to romanticize it. I longed for palm trees and sunshine, and a place where people weren’t quite so nice. But after only a day back in the AZ I was missing my small section of the world. I realized all the wonderful things I love about Salem. People native to the town will fight me tooth and nail on this one, but Salem really does have a lot to offer. Firstly, let me start by saying that there is only ONE Olive Garden here. Same with Red Lobster. No Chili’s, no TGIF’s. But, there are a ton of local spots, and more popping up every day. Small and local is alive and well in Salem.

If you like beer, there are four local breweries. Yes, they’re small. But they’re growing, and quick. And this town knows its beer. Also, Trevor and I really like our beer.

Salem is a fairly quiet town. It’s the capitol, so there are a lot of government jobs, and state police are all over town. The locals claim there’s gang activity, but when you’ve grown up in a place where a certain color t-shirt can get you in a fight, you tend not to take Salem’s gangs too seriously. Also, where I live, the crime rate is pretty low. I can’t say the same thing for where I work, but I’ve yet to have a problem in over a year.

The schools are decent. Better than AZ’s, which isn’t hard to do.

And let us not forget the proximity to EVERYTHING. Less than two hours to the coast. Less than an hour to Portland. About and hour or so to Mt. Hood. What more can you ask for? Salem is a decent home base, and going home helped me remember that.

Basically been working my ass off. Just fought a losing battle with a cold going around work, though I think I got the condensed version. Almost back in top shape after a rough three days.

I made a feeble attempt at NaNoWriMo. Wrote less than 2,000 words and my brain screamed for me to stop. ‘Vessels’ is still alive and kicking up in my head. There probably isn’t a day where I don’t think of a scene or character from the book. So, in order to let the manuscript sleep I let my brain take a couple months off. Played a lot of Pokemon and Assassin’s Creed, and reconnected with a lot of music.

And then, last week, my brain started to think about something else. The new novel, the one I wrote that intro to ages ago. There’d been a time when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever come around to it. After finishing the rough draft of ‘Vessels’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to write another novel. Over six months of my life were poured into a computer, toiled away to create a world that may never see the light of day. I worried, fussed, stressed, might have even cried at one point, for a piece of fiction that may ultimately come to nothing.

Could I really put myself through it all again?

And for those two months, I didn’t have an answer.

And I didn’t force myself to come up with one. I trusted that, if this were really my thing, if I really am a writer, I would come back to it in my own time. And then I woke up Thursday morning and knew. My brain hummed with ideas and visions. That transition I didn’t know how to handle? The answer was there, in my head. I knew it. All I had to do was go to work early, plug in the laptop, and type.

And that’s exactly what I did. And the entire chapter followed. Almost 3,000 words. And it ended so well, so much differently than I had planned. And then Saturday night, on the dark, lonely drive home at nearly 1 in the morning, I wrote the beginning of chapter 2 in my head. As soon as I got home I found a notebook and wrote it out. I couldn’t fall asleep and not write it down. What if I lost it?

And that’s where I’m at. I don’t know how many words the chapter two intro is, I still haven’t put it in the computer, but I’m excited. And a bit pent up. I’m used to closing at work, which gives me over 4+ hours a day to write, uninterrupted. But, now, I’m working Mid-Shifts. You know, the day job. Anywhere from 7a-5p. By then Trevor’s home and we’re making dinner. I never liked to write on my days off, and I don’t usually like to write at home. But after an 8 hour shift, the last thing I want to do is camp out at work when I could be at home with my man.

So now I’m faced with the struggle of coming up with a new writing schedule. The hours I maintained while writing ‘Vessels’ were so natural. When else would I write? So, when can I write now? Not during the day, I’m making lattes then. Not in the evening, I’m making dinner and trying to have a normal life. So, in the wee hours when I should be sleeping? I mean, sure, I can do that. But, it doesn’t thrill me, and I don’t think the words that come out of me at 2 in the morning are my best work. This blog not included, haha.

I have Mondays off, and Trevor works during the day, so yeah, that works. But, can I bust out a chapter a week with only ONE scheduled day to write? I highly doubt it. There will be weeks where I can, of course. When the fire is lit and I’m really cooking my way through scenes. But not every week can be that way, in fact, most of them won’t be.

So, maybe I’ll just start carrying a notebook with me again. Every day, when I have spare time, like before my shift, or on my lunch, I could write. And then on Mondays put it in the computer and then work on what’s next. It’s doable. Not ideal, but it could get the job done, if slowly.

I’ll have to play around with it, and really start listening to myself. I know there have been days when my inner writer has piped up and suggested softly that we should put some work in. But when there’s dinner cooking, or video games to be played, she’s easy to dissuade. With my sudden crimp on time, I’m going to have to pay attention to her. She knows when it’s time, and if I ignore her, we’ll never get anything done.

Now then, I’m starting to sound a bit crazy so it must be time for bed. At least it feels that way. I’m sorry this was so long in coming, but my brain needed some space for a while. But, I’m back. I’m working on something new, and as the Holidays wind down there will be more and more time for writing.

As ever, thanks Blogland. I’ll see you next time.

BZ