The Recap – August 2019

Woof. I uh… maybe fell off the map there for awhile. I’m sorry y’all. Work started on August 12th and I’m just now coming up for air. My new job (high school librarian) has been taking ALL of my bandwidth. I’ve barely been reading. I’ve watched a lot of television which we all know is unusual behavior for me, because it’s all my brain can really handle.

But, I dealt with the submissions stuff today and have edits for The Audient Void to work on. I’ve been reading/listening to audiobooks and the day-to-day of work is starting to even out. Hopefully that means I’ll begin working on my writing again soon.

August Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. Admittedly, it’s mostly been waiting, but even at my lowest, I didn’t let submissions stagnate.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Definitely not.
  • Finish Whales rough draft
    • Close! I think 1k more and it’ll be done. It’s just a really hard, emotional 1k. Also, renamed The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • No. I didn’t finish a single title in August. That’s really disheartening.

Monthly Word Count: 1,234

So yeah. Writing-wise, August was a low point for sure. It was a blur, and I don’t have much to say other than I’m ready to move on. It’s a little late in the month to set goals, but I’m not going to let that stop me!

September Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

I need to keep things simple for the rest of the month and keep my goals SUPER small. A thousand-ish words, continue submissions, and keep reading. That’s it. That’s all I need to do to feel good come October first. I can do that.

Right now I’m reading Our Dark Duet, as well as listening to Saint’s Blood. I need to read some more short stories and get back on track for my reading goal. I am REALLY behind, let me tell you. Hopefully soon I’ll have a book review for you guys.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary 2019 – wk #31

Hey Bloggos! I haven’t completely forgotten you, I promise. I may not have made it to last week’s Goals Summary, but I still set some goals for myself later in the week. I also came down with a pretty wicked little cold over the weekend, and I spent all day yesterday one the couch, battling a fever with a binge session of the new season of Veronica Mars. Now I’m nursing a very light, subtle migraine and hoping I’m in tip-top shape come Monday. Because that’s when I (finally) start my new job!

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Last Last Week

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

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Narp.
  • Work on Whales
    • Yarp. Only a very little.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
    • Narp.

Weekly Word Count: 333

I honestly don’t really remember what was going on week before last. There was a vacation over the weekend and lots of reading. I watched some movies and in general tried to enjoy my free time instead of guilting myself into being miserable.

Last Week

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

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp! A book review made for a decent week on the blog.
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Work on Whales
    • Nope. Not even a little little bit.

Weekly Word Count: 0

This weekend was busy with social events and visiting the in-laws. The week flew by with chores and some reading. I binged some tv shows too, I think. Trev was sick, which then got me sick, and over all there isn’t much more to be said. I wrote a book review, though, so that’s nice!

What’s Next?

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

I know it’s getting a bit repetitive, but until there’s progress in these areas I can’t really move on to anything else. I woke up this morning feeling quite a bit better and almost set to revising the second chapter of Exodus, when my burst of energy fizzled out and I took a nap instead. Apparently better isn’t the same as well. Hopefully I’ll continue to feel better through the week and manage to get some work done.

I’ve started bingeing The Adventure Zone: Amnesty, which is time I could spend listening to audiobooks, but hey, it’s TAZ. I kinda can’t say no.

So yeah. I’m reading and editing and writing this week. I’m all caught up on my favorite shows, I’ve watched enough movies, and read enough nonfiction. It’s time to get back to fiction, both reading and writing.

I’ll be back soon with another Veronica Mars book review, and then I’ll finally be able to post the reading round up.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

 

The Recap – July 2019

July is a blur. Not even a blur, really. More a collection of images stamped in my brain, flashes of days spent wallowing and letting myself off the hook for my lack of productivity. I read a lot, watched a lot of TV, and played a lot of video games. I gave myself permission to immerse myself in the misery of sudden, unexpected unemployment.

Not my finest month, by any stretch.

July Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Narp. I did revise one chapter, but there’s like, eight of them, so… not what we’d call a success.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. I at least didn’t allow my complete lack of motivation keep my stories from getting work done. All three are still out.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Nope. I did read two from Transcendent 2 though.
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
    • Nope. I did make some great progress, all things considered. Maybe about halfway? I’m calling it Whales in my head, but the actual title is The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I at least managed to do this! I read six titles in July, most of them Nonfiction about running libraries. But it’s still reading! I did a thing!

Monthly Word Count: 1,720

I’m working really hard not to be too critical of myself for this past month. When I look at all the inconsistency, how I ghosted on the blog a couple of times, how I couldn’t rely on myself to put my ass in the chair and get work done… it feels bad. My office door was closed most of this month, and almost all of my computing happened from the couch. Granted, some of that was fiction writing, but still. It feels gross.

But, I also know that summer is not a great time for me, historically. I’ve never been let go from a job before, let alone one that meant so much to me, and it was a serious blow to my self-esteem. Which is ridiculous since it was a city-wide layoff. But, my brain can tell me how ridiculous I’m being all damn day, my heart won’t hear it. At least not until it’s wallowed and had entirely too much ice cream.

Stomachaches provide clarity, apparently.

So, what did I do all month? I read a lot, taking notes, planning displays and programs, planting seeds for some networking, and doing the HR on-boarding sort of stuff for the school district. I binged Veronica Mars, The Great British Baking Show, watched more movies than I have in years, and played Red Dead Redemption II. I did a lot of chores. There was a weekend in Bend too, to celebrate our anniversary.

For some that looks like a nice summer vacation. For me it reeks of depression. All that downtime and I only wrote 1700 words? Yikes. I didn’t even apply for the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. I couldn’t muster the energy.

But, today I opened my new planner (July 2019-June 2020) and wrote in all my holidays and non-working days (school schedules are whack, y’all), and I’m feeling prepared and dare I say inspired?

Well, not quite inspired. Maybe intrigued. There’s a little simmer of interest bubbling up in me. I don’t know what it will lead to, but I’ll do my best not to smother it.

August Goals

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

Yep. Those are the goals from last month. They’re good goals. All things I really want to work on. I don’t know how realistic it is to try and do them all the same month I’m starting at a whole new job, but I doubt it could be a worse performance than July. It’s worth striving for.

That optimism alone is refreshing. I just may be on an upswing, Bloggos.

I’d really like to get back into hiking as well this month. July was just such an oddly social, yet so very shut in month. It was all contradictions and self-guilt and escapism. I’m ready to leave that all behind and get back to work.

I’ll be back around with either a reading recap or a book review or something tomorrow.

Until then, Blogland.

 

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #29

Well. This is awkward.

I ghosted on the blog last week. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I didn’t post a single thing last week. And that’s because I didn’t do a single writing related thing in the last couple of weeks. It feels… bad. But also, okay. The summer is my traditional season of unpredictability. There’s almost always a slump of some kind, though I thought I might have finally broken that habit.

Then I was laid off from the library, a job I absolutely loved. Talk about getting derailed.

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I’ve tried to keep my days productive with household chores, and while lots of work is getting done around the house, I’m also bingeing a lot of movies and television I wouldn’t normally have time for. Working on creative endeavors right now seems utterly exhausting. I have no motivation whatsoever, so I’m not forcing the issue for now. I know I’ll come back to it, because I always do.

I did get some good news, though. I was offered a position as the Library Media Assistant at Stayton High School! It doesn’t start until mid-August, so there’s still a bit of downtime ahead of me, but I’m using the time to read up on running a school library and gather resources and ideas for my first year on the job. It’s going to be a very big change, with lots of learning opportunities, which has me beyond excited.

That excitement has also taken over any energy I might have for writing related work. This is a nice reminder that I cannot control everything, and I have to work within my means without feeling guilty. It’s a lesson I still struggle with.

Now then, what was I supposed to do two weeks ago?

Last Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
  • Read two short stories
  • Write 1k on Whales

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! There were three posts that week thanks to the busyness inherent in the early days of the month.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
    • No. I did revise one chapter though, so not a total loss.
  • Read two short stories
    • Nope. Lots of other reading, but no short stories.
  • Write 1k on Whales
    • Nope. I had some great progress the week before, but it came to a halt pretty quickly.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Other than interviewing and finding out I had a new job, I don’t really know what I did that week. Read and watch Veronica Mars, I think. And chores.

Last Week

  • Nothing. There were no goals, nothing to strive toward. I read and watched TV and cooked and cleaned. I have become utterly domestic in my joblessness. I didn’t even go on any hikes! Yikes…

Weekly Word Count: 0

So yeah… not super productive. I mean, I read like three books in the last two weeks and have three GoogleDocs for work related resources, display ideas, and passive programs. So, I was busy-ish, just not with anything tangible for the blog. OH! I did read a single submission for The Audient Void, so there! I did one tangible writing related thing! HOORAY!

So, What’s Next?

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

That’s it. That’s all I want. A little bit of writing, a little bit of editing. We have our Bend trip to celebrate our anniversary this weekend, which I can’t believe is finally here, so I have five days to do some work…

And to binge the entire new season of Veronica Mars!

Someone send help.

It’s going to be August before we know it, and then it’s only 12 days before I start at my new job! Have I mentioned that I’m excited?

See you soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Reading Round Up – June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #27

Week one of unemployment in the books. What did I do with all this free time? Let’s find out!

Last Week

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

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Actually three last week, including a book review!
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
    • Eh… Kinda? I started reading chapter one, and have it all printed out and ready to go. But, there’s no quantifiable progress yet.
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
    • Yes! It’s another risky story for me. I’m trying really hard to push my boundaries and see what I’m capable of. We’ll see how it goes.
  • Read a short story
    • No… I meant to, but I got a little carried away with my rewatch of Veronica Mars.

Weekly Word Count: 1,387

This week was… long? I’ll admit I spent the majority of my time doing housework and bingeing Veronica Mars. I’ve been a huge fan of the show since I was about 16, so the revival coming later this month has me pretty hyped. I didn’t do much reading because I was either watching the show or reading fanfic. So, yeah, I’m back on my old shit. Like, my really old shit.

But, when I wasn’t taking a trip down nostalgia lane, I did get a bit done. There was a bit of activity on the blog and a healthy amount of writing. There was also a bit of unemployment stuff that took up a chunk of time.

Also, I went on a hike on Saturday to Cape Perpetua where we explored tide pools and saw Thor’s Well. Over all, aside from the joblessness, it was a good week.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
  • Read two short stories
  • Write 1k on Whales

There should be a bit of activity on the blog this week. Including the Reading Recap and the Six Month update. The revision process on Exodus shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a clean draft, I just need to tighten some language and change one plot/character element. It’s more a matter of sitting down to do it.

I have Transcendent 2 from the library and need to get reading, so I’ll be spending some time with it this week. I’ll also be reading the Veronica Mars book over the next couple of weeks to get all caught up on the canon before the new season launches on Hulu.

The new short story is… weird. It came from a SUPER nebulous concept. I knew I had a married couple in an isolated SF setting trying to resolve their marital issues. That’s it. That’s all I knew. So when I set out writing it was truly exploratory. Who are these people? What do they want? What’s keeping them from it? I wrote over 1k words just exploring character and narration before I landed on what I think will be the final version. I’ll talk about it a bit more when I think it’s done.

There should be another hike this weekend, though I don’t have any idea where yet. Keep an eye out for photos.

Until next time, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

The Recap – June 2019

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

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

June Goals

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

How’d I do?

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

Monthly Word Count: 6,298

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July Goals

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

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

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

I’ll keep saying that until it comes true.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ