Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 41

Blogland,

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

Last Week

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

How’d I do?

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

Weekly Word Count: 1,980

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

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

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

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

So, What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

Ugh.

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

 

BZ

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On Research

Blogland,

Fun fact: researching angels is harder than you’d think.

Seraphim-2.jpg

There are so many different versions of the same doctrine, books upon books upon books of religious texts that run counter to one another. One text might name four archangels, only to be deemed apocryphal by another sect that has their own angels!

As a non-religious person delving into the worlds of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam… woof. There is a lot to wade through here.

What I’m realizing is that I may have to blend some sources and make gut decisions, because these descriptions of the angels are just the foundation. They will grow into characters in their own right and become more than just names in a book. So, while I’ll continue to gather resources and learn as much as I can, I’m probably going to have to lean on my own creativity more than research when it comes to the angels themselves.

I’ve also started gathering images of landmarks from the Phoenix metro, along with maps, street names, and businesses. I grew up in the Valley of the Sun, but I haven’t lived there in over six years. It’s going to take some time for me to get into the setting and really bring it to life.

Things left to research include:

  • Catholic rituals, prayers, and saints
  • Churches in the Phoenix Metro
  • Demons and Devils
  • Spanish

My main character is bilingual, so I need to up my understanding of Spanish, and practice writing bilingual dialogue. Thanks to fanfiction, I have some experience with this, but I will have a lot more by the time this book is done. I also have an awesome online writing community that will no doubt help me with the Spanglish. Also, this is nanowrimo. If I’m uncertain about what Spanish to use, I’ll just put a note in red and figure it out during a revision when I’ll have more time to get it right.

I just got a couple more books from the library, and they both look promising. I should be on track to have a solid research foundation by the end of the month, and maybe even a thin outline! I’m not usually big on outlines, but I think having one will really help streamline things in November, especially since I’ll be working more than I originally anticipated.

So, despite some frustrations, research is actually going well. It’s getting the creative gears turning, and will help guide me when things get… iffy.

I plan on doing a Nano-eve post where I talk about my goals for the month and my strategies to achieve them. Granted, Nano-eve is Halloween, so we’ll see if I stick to that.

I’ll be back on Monday for the usual Goals Summary post. Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 40

Hi Blogland!

This last week really hit me hard. Between the jet lag and two jobs, I spent way more of my time sleeping than I really anticipated. Or, at least, it felt that way. In reality, I went from working 20ish hours a week to over 40 this week, so that’s where the majority of my time went.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Goals Summary and The Audient Void release announcement are both up.
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
    • Yep! More on this in a moment.
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the libraryImage result for legion lies of the beholder
    • Eh… Kinda? I’m inclined to give this one to myself. I got several books from the library, and even bookmarked several passages to start with. I also brainstormed some of the back story. But, nothing new made it into the Scrivener project, so it’s sort of a wash.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Nope. But I did write a tumblr prompt!
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Haha. Nope. As ever. Some day I’ll get this story done.
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human
    • No. BUT, I did read Lies of the Beholder, the last Legion novella by Brandon Sanderson.

Weekly Word Count: 648

So, obviously, not much in the way of writing this week. But that’s okay, because editing was the priority. And That Which Illuminates Heaven is officially in its second draft! Hooray!

confetti

Normally I would print out another copy at this stage and edit again, but I’m not gonna lie, I really like it the way it is. I’ve sent it to a couple friends to get feedback and that all important fresh perspective. Hopefully once I hear back from them I can approach it with new eyes and make some more changes.

Another reason why I haven’t been getting as much work done is because I am binge-listening to The Adventure Zone podcast and loving every minute of it! I’ll be done with it soon, so I should be able to refocus on the matters at hand.

What’s Next?

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

This is another ambitious week, which is silly given that I didn’t get that much done last week (bullet-points-wise). But, I am ever the optimist, so maybe I’ll get it all done! Who knows?

I have a Walk ‘n’ Talk™ scheduled with Madhu for tomorrow morning, then work. Then work all day on Wednesday. An easy day Thursday, which is probably when I’ll get the most work done. Then work all day Friday, work hella early on Saturday, then off the rest of the weekend. Not as much time to read and write, but I’ll do my best. That’s all I can ever do.

I’m going to write up a review for Legion: Lies of the Beholder, so there will definitely be two blog posts this week. I’ve got a pile of books ready for the research to commence, and enough down time that I should be able to join in on a sprint or two with my writer’s discord and get those 500 words done. Recording an episode of Santa Sarita is always a maybe, but I think it’d be nice to return to it this week and get back into the swing of the series.

And maybe I’ll finish another book this week. I’m about 7 pages into War for the Oaks; far too early to make a judgement on it yet. We’ll see how it goes as the week rolls on.

I’ll be back with a book review soon enough. Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – September 2018

Bloggos,

Everyone call Green Day because September is ending! I’m back from vacation and pleased to find Oregon well on its way into fall. The leaves are falling, pumpkins beg for carving, and the weather is wonderfully dreary. A very nice change from Munich’s humidity and warmth. There’s a lot from my vacation to talk about, but I’ll get into that more tomorrow. Today, we talk about:

September Goals

  • Tumblr prompts
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions

How’d I Do?

  • Tumblr prompts
    • No… I didn’t get that research done that I needed to, so this prompt moves on into October.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • Hahaha nope! I wrote like… a paragraph?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. I read four titles this month, with two book reviews, and a handful of short stories.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes! I received another rejection while on vacation and just sent The Cost of Rain off to the next place.

Total Word Count: 265

Well. I knew September would be incredibly unproductive, I just didn’t imagine it would be that bad. Like… zoinks Scoob, that’s really bad. But, I planned for this. I planned for a lax September and an editing/research heavy October because November is National Novel Writing Month! I won last year, and I aim on doing it again. The difference this time is that this project isn’t fanfic, the plot isn’t preordained and the world doesn’t already exist (well, it’s an Urban Fantasy, so yes, actually it does, but you get my point!). This year it’s going to take a lot more work to get to that 50k mark, and then a few more months of dedicated effort to finish it off.

But I’m excited for this story. I’m ready to do the research and spend the time outlining so that I at least have some idea of where the hell this novel is headed. That way, when I get stuck, I have some kind of map to help guide me out.

October Goals

  • Tumblr prompt
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

This is going to be an ambitious month. July and August were busy months with very high output for me, but September saw a decrease in all reading and writing. I want to spend October really revving back up so I can put my best writerly foot forward for NaNoWriMo and to get back into the swing of things.

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m going to shelve The Mechanical. I like it, but it’s a slow book, with a very atmospheric narrative style that is the exact opposite of what I need to read right now. So, instead, I’m going to focus on Urban Fantasy novels for the month of October, starting with Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks.

I’m always open to recommendations, so please let me know if there’s any Urban Fantasy out there that I absolutely must read! I’ve read all the Dresden Files books, all but the most recent Peter Grant book (it’s on hold at the library), and have the first books of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye novels, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, and Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series on hold at the library.

Please tell me what I’m missing!

So that’s October! Probably another low word count month as I edit, research, and read my butt off in preparation for NaNoWriMo! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about last week and share a bunch of pictures from my vacation in Germany, and then it’s back to the grindstone. Don’t expect any book reviews this week, since I’ll be starting fresh this month with a new book, but hopefully I can get a few out later this month.

Talk soon, Blogland.

 

BZ

Book Review – Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Blogland,

I went into reading this book with very mixed expectations. I’d heard multiple firsthand accounts of how brilliant it is, but actually knew absolutely nothing about it. I’ve never read anything by VanderMeer before, and all I knew about Borne was what I could glean from inside the jacket flap.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

borne

Rachel is a scavenger, eking out a living in the City for herself and her partner Wick. Tensions are high, with resources in the ruined city scarce and the giant, hyper-intelligent bear, Mord, wreaking havoc wherever he pleases. Wick and Rachel are distrustful lovers and partners, helping one another and keeping more than their fair share of secrets to boot.

One of those secrets is Borne, a sentient blob of biotech that grows and grows and grows. Rachel tries to raise him in secret, just another topic to avoid with Wick, but Borne quickly proves too curious and clever to be satisfied with Rachel’s small apartment.

With the secret out, Borne explores their domain of the Balcony Cliffs while Rachel and Wick let their secrets drive a wedge between them. When all the lizards have disappeared from their ruined halls, when all the small critters that scampered in the walls have vanished, and when raiders attack their home only to mysteriously abandon the Cliffs, Rachel refuses to entertain Wick’s accusation.

“Borne eats and eats,” says Wick. “But nothing comes out.”

And so begins the battle between Rachel and Wick about Borne. The decisions in which will shape the rest of their lives.

I have some pretty conflicted thoughts about this book. On the one hand, I very much enjoyed the story and the characters. Rachel, Wick, and Borne are delightfully complex and I often found myself disappointed in them as often as I was pleased. The world is developed extremely well, and I’d be happy to spend more time to learn about the City and the Company that deteriorated it so.

But…

VanderMeer’s writing was a struggle for me. Don’t misunderstand, it is beautiful. But it’s also strange. Just like the book itself. I had a hard time, not because the prose is overly Image result for borne vandermeercomplex or wordy, but because the sentence structures were often bizarre. There were entire paragraphs, large chunks of the page that were only a sentence or two. Those were immediately followed with sentence fragments and sentences that played with word order. You have to scavenge the story from the page. And while I can appreciate the mastery of craft behind such a novel, it frequently pulled me from the story, jarred me from the world, and allowed my mind to wander when all I really wanted was to know what happened to Rachel and her makeshift family.

 

See? I’m conflicted. It is a beautiful book. It’s a book that makes the reader work. And I’m not opposed to doing the work, but I felt that Borne could have balanced storytelling and readability a little bit better.

I can’t say if this is true for all of VanderMeer’s stories. I’ve only read Borne, and I’m only a third of the way through the Borne novella, The Strange Bird. So far, I don’t feel like it suffers as much from the jarring language as the novel did. Or maybe I’m just acclimated and notice it less. Either way, I’m struggling less so far. Which is a good thing.

I should be back this weekend to write up my review for The Strange Bird and probably to vent about how stressed I am about this trip. I’ll be fine once we’re on the plane, but each passing day my anxiety grows and grows. Just like Borne.

I need a beer.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 36

Bloggos!

This is my last full week before Germany! There is a ton to do this week, but before I can tear into that, we have to talk about last week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctuary
  • Finish reading Borne
  • Read two short stories
  • Review Madhu’s query letter

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. No book reviews, just some goals discussions and a general monologue.
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctuary
    • Ha. Ha. No. A whoppin’ 265 words written this week.
  • Finish reading Borne
    • No. But, I read a ton. I’m really close to finishing it.
  • Read two short stories
    • Yes! Three of them actually.
  • Review Madhu’s query letter
    • Yep. She’s probably not happy with me. I was pretty rough on that query, but it’s a crucial step in getting her novel published. We gotta get it right.

Weekly Word Count: 265

So, yeah. You can tell I didn’t get much done this week. I blogged, I read a bit, and I played Detroit: Become Human until I had to hide the game from myself in order to disentangle from the PS4. Thankfully the game is now out of my hands and off to the next lucky person who gets to play it.

In my reading I finally got around to Sam J. Miller’s Things with Beards and Calved, set in the same city as his amazing novel Blackfish City. I also read City of Ash by Paolo Bacigalupi, which is set in a post-climate change Phoenix so I found that pretty darn interesting.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Borne and The Strange Birdthe strange bird
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

As you can see, I’m striving to keep things simple this week. Because these are the official goals, but there is a mountain of unofficial tasks that have to happen before Tuesday. Such as:

  • Clean the entire house
  • Pack luggage
  • Stock up on dog treats (so sad poocher won’t be quite so sad)
  • Organize travel documents/foreign currency
  • Book shuttle to airport
  • Refill prescriptions
  • And probably a million other things I’m forgetting

(This is my anxiety trying to get out of control. I cope with list-making, so just bear with me.)

And I’m working more hours this week than I’ve worked in two years… Keep me in your thoughts, y’all. It’s gonna be one hell of a week.

I’ll be around this week with at least one book review, and then back on Monday for the goals summary and farewells before vacation.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Thinking Out Loud

I’ve finally put down Detroit: Become Human. After five play-throughs, I think it’s safe to say I’ve accomplished all the major variations I wanted, saw all the striking differences my decisions could lead to, and it’s time to pass it on to the next person.

Image result for detroit become human

This also means that I’m slowly returning to a sense of productivity. I read a few short stories yesterday, namely Calved and Things with Beards by Sam J. Miller. There was a Paolo Bucigalupi short story too, City of Ash.  Both of these authors are wonderful, capable of stuffing so much emotion in so few words. Their stories have depth beyond just the page and its a reminder of the strength and purpose of short fiction. It’s good to read them and realize how much work there is to be done in my own short fiction writing.

I’m not going to pull The Cost of Rain or Lifelike. They are what they are, and they’re both getting close enough that I’m still confident that they’ll find homes eventually. But, this is a nice time to let the wheels start turning over That Which Illuminates Heaven. I’m almost ready to think about it critically, to tear it to pieces and foster the most effective bits into something powerful and full of whimsy. I have a lot of hopes pinned on this story; I think it might be something special.

But before any of that, there’s a second job to start and a vacation to be had. Once I’m back I’ll have to flex those time management muscles to reach my goals, and may have to have some very real considerations about setting realistic expectations. I’m used to working part time and putting hours and hours into my writing and editing. It’s been a really wonderful couple of years, allowing me to really focus on my craft and hone my skills.

But now it’s back to work. Probably 40+ hours a week, knowing me. Which means I need to maximize my writing time. I was able to work 40+ hours a week and go to school full time; I can write and work too. It’s just going to be a big adjustment.

I’m still slowly reading Borne. I picked a bad time to try and pick it up, nothing could bornecompete with Detroit: Become Human. But, I’ve got the next week to read it and the related novella The Strange Bird before we leave for Germany.

I don’t know If I’ll get the reviews for either of them up before we leave, but I will try.

Then, once I’m back, it’s all about revising That Which Illuminates Heaven and researching for my as of yet untitled Urban Fantasy NaNoWriMo project. I have no idea how I will write 50k words and work full time, but I’m sure gonna try. Expect the word counts for September and October to be pretty low and for November and December to be relatively high.

Anyway, that’s where my brain’s at. My wheels are spinning but there’s not much output just yet. I hope to return from my travels refreshed and ready to finish 2018 strong!

Talk at y’all on Monday, as per usual.

Until then

 

BZ