Write Here, Write Now 2019

Hey Bloggos,

Yesterday was Willamette Writers’ Write Here, Write Now event, where a slew of authors give 10 minute talks, followed by 45 minute writing blocks. Lunch was catered and each attendee had two 12 minute one-on-ones with an author. I had sessions with both Devon Monk and Diana Pharaoh Francis and it was awesome!

I don’t want to get into a play-by-play of the day, but just wanted to say that the event was 100% worth it. I wrote just over 3,800 words yesterday. I met authors and local writers and did a fantastic job of being myself. I can’t emphasize how difficult that is for me in a new social setting. But I was funny, unafraid to chat, and made some new writer contacts, so that’s a big win for me. Just as much a win as busting out all those words.

Speaking of, those words put me just slightly ahead of schedule for finishing my novel. I have an outlined one and a half chapters left, but I think there’s going to be more than that before everything is said and done. Which means this rough draft will be over 80k!

happy dance gif.gif

As usual, I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the week in depth.

Until then,

 

BZ

P.S. If you want my notes from the conference, check out my Patreon!

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The Recap – April 2019

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

April Goals

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

How’d I do?

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

Monthly Word Count: 21,140

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

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

Things I did:

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

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

May Goals

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

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

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

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

Image result for snow patrol tour
I love them so very very very much. 

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

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

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

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

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #16

This last week was a blur. I’m trying to think of what all I did, and honestly I can’t tell you much. The weekend was full with hiking, family get-togethers, and yard work in the decent weather. We also watched a couple movies and spent the holiday relaxing together, a rare occurrence these days.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Including two book reviews.
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • YES! Writing went very very well this week. a-conjuring-of-light
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light
    • …yes. I am so sad because of it. What the hell do I do now?

Weekly Word Count: 4,980

I think it’s safe to say that the novel is officially in the third act and things are rolling downhill and gathering steam. Every time I sat down to write I wrote almost double of what I’d hoped to. I’d exceeded my word count goal by one hundred words by Saturday, and so rewarded myself with a writing-free Sunday. I also wrote about 1300 words hammering out a 500 word story for PodCastle’s Flash Fiction Contest. It was a real challenge, which was the point, but I’m pretty proud of what I came up with. I’ll have more details about this over the summer, once voting on the stories begins.

Book reviews for both Trail of Lightning and A Gathering of Shadows are out now, so check those out!

Thursday was a four mile Walk ‘n’ Talk with Madhu, where we mostly commiserated over waiting to hear about submissions. After that, since it was such a lovely day, I found a patio, had a beer and some french fries, and got some good writing time in.

I went on a lovely hike this weekend at Opal Creek, one of Oregon’s most popular hikes. It was a cool and misty morning that broke into a gorgeous day. The water was gushing with fresh snowmelt, the roar of the river never-ending. We packed a lunch of tuna salad, hard-boiled eggs, dolmas, cheesy bread, and dried coconut and apple chips. The picnic at the middle of the hike is always my favorite part.

And then Sunday was a chill day, watching movies, making good food, and enjoying the peace and quiet. I finished reading A Conjuring of Light last night, I cried a good deal, and then moped in bed because what else could I do? I have a serious case of book hangover right now.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The Light Brigade

This straightforward approach has worked the rest of the month, so why not keep it going? I’ve got the review for A Conjuring Light to post this week, and will probably have another post later in the week as well. Writing continues to progress at a steady pace, so I’m confident that I’ll make my goal for the week. I’m working a little bit less this week too, so I have more time for writing.

the light brigadeI’ll also have some more time for reading, which is good because I haven’t even started The Light Brigade yet! It’s not too long, and all the press and reviews I’ve seen about it promise a fast-paced and gripping story. So, I should be able to finish it this week. I’m slowly, but surely, catching up to my reading goal.

This week is a busy one otherwise. I’m going to Portland on Thursday for the SFWA’s Reading series, where both Rebecca Roanhorse (Trail of Lightning) and Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City) will be reading and speaking! I am so stupid excited for this event and Trevor’s even going to come with me!

Then Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day. Each year The Book Bin does a big daylong celebration with panels and authors, and usually ends the day with a release party for the newest issue of The Audient Void. This year is no exception, with issue #7 final proofs returned to Obadiah today. So, if you want to come down, support a local bookstore, and grab your issue, hot off the press! If you don’t live near Salem, you should still visit your local indie Bookstore and give them some love.

No hikes for the next couple of weeks, there’s just too much going on. So I’ll be home or at writing/book events, getting work done. That’s the plan. I’ll see you soon with a review, Bloggos.

Until then,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #15

Hey Blogland,

It’s been an emotional day after learning about the tragedy in Paris. I visited Notre Dame when I was fifteen. That same year, before we ever knew each other, my husband also traveled to Paris and went to see the beautiful Cathedral. Now, almost fifteen years later, we’d both hoped to visit again so we could share those memories. I’m at once feeling the loss of what was and of what could have been, but I know it is nothing in comparison to the grief of the citizens of Paris and all of France. Je suis de tout cœur avec vous.

But before today came a whole week of writing and reading. Let’s talk about that.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp. Not only two but three, thanks to a busy week of reading and reviewing.
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • Yes! And then some!
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night
    • Yep. And I finished listening to A Gathering of Shadows!a gathering of shadows

Weekly Word Count: 4,368

Do you see that word count? Do you? It was a hard fought week with the manuscript with some scenes pouring out of me while others had to be tugged like knotted rope. But, the point is, I sat down each day and committed to 500 words. Some days that was all I could manage, but most days there were quite a bit more. Most days the flow didn’t hit until I crossed over 500 words and poured into more.

I finally powered through the last third of The City in the Middle of the Night. The review is up now for those who are interested in my thoughts on the book. I also posted the review for A Darker Shade of Magic on Friday, so it was a busy week on the blog.

I read Trail of Lightning and binge-listened to A Gathering of Shadows, pretty much screaming the entire time while I folded laundry. It took all of my self-control not to purchase the audiobook of A Conjuring of Light because I was very nearly too impatient to get my hands on the hard copy today. I also read a short story, as per my monthly goal of a story a week. So, yeah, lots of reading and writing this past week.

I’m trying to remember if there was anything else. The Walk ‘n’ Talk was rescheduled to this week, and Madhu received another Full Manuscript Request, so that’s awesome. I’ve sort of reached that nose to the grindstone phase of the novel. There’s not much to talk about writing-wise right now. I just need to buckle in and get work done.

Speaking of which…

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light

So, yeah. More of the same. I’ve got two book reviews slotted for this week, so we’re all good there. I’m still feeling good about the manuscript and the direction the story is headed, so as long as I make time at my desk, I feel good about my word count goals. And as for reading the last Shades of Magic book? I can’t think of much that could stop me from inhaling it at inhuman speeds.

The short stories are STILL out and I’m still slowly dying of anticipation. Each day more stories are rejected (and some are even accepted) but mine remain in the nebulous realm of “Maybe”. It’s exhausting.

lisa collar tug gif.gif

What else? Walk ‘n’ Talk later this week and another hike on Saturday’s docket. Still don’t know where we’re going, but somewhere pretty and probably wet. I’m sure there will be pictures to share. There’s also a bit of social activity this week with dinner out tomorrow night and possibly(?) trivia on Thursday. Oh! And the Willamette Writers meeting on Wednesday.

Good grief. When am I supposed to do any writing? I may have overbooked myself. And there’s another busy week after that too, but I’ll talk more about that later.

Oh yeah! I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, mostly as a way to keep myself accountable this month and really focus on getting this draft done. I like seeing the little graph grow each day, and I really like seeing the daily breakdowns of my productivity.

That’s all, I think. Reading and writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. I have a couple busy weeks ahead of me, both personally and writing-wise as I try to get this novel rough draft done before June. Meanwhile I’m trying not to think too much about all the pending news I’m waiting on. The good news is I have enough books that I ought to be well and truly distracted.

TBR madness

See anything you like? Tell me all about it (spoiler-free please!) in the comments! I’ll be back with the review for Trail of Lightning on Wednesday, and A Gathering of Shadows on Friday.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #14

Oh, Blogland, what a week it was. Busy, quick and seemingly never-ending all at once.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish The City in the Middle of the Night

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Between the weekly post, the Monthly Recap, and the Reading Round Up, there was no shortage of blog activity last week.
  • city in the middle of the nightWrite 500 words/day on Tavi
    • *grumble, grumble*… no…
  • Finish The City in the Middle of the Night
    • … No… But I did finish an audiobook over the weekend!

Weekly Word Count: 3,410

So, I was all on track to have this amazing, productive week, only 90 words shy of my goal, when, BOOM! Migraine. I cannot tell you how much that pissed me off. That something as arbitrary and absolutely uncontrollable as a migraine ground my work to a halt. I’m real salty about it.

It’s also the reason why, instead of finishing The City in the Middle of the Night, I listened to all fourteen hours of A Darker Shade of Magic instead. The good news is, I am obsessed with this series now and am gobbling up the second one. I wish I’d read them sooner! The bad news is, I’m still struggling with the Anders book. But, I’m almost there. Just another 60 pages or so.

The only other good thing about migraines is that I completely forget about tracking my submissions. It’s been three days since I’ve obsessively checked The Submission Grinder to see that beautiful, terrifying graph that holds all my publishing dreams in its grip.

While I wasn’t assuming the fetal position and trying not to puke, I was hiking! Blogland, it was an absolute perfect trip out to the Oregon Coast. It poured down monsoon quality rain the whole drive out there, Laurel and I talked about all kinds of things (including some story fodder), and then, right as we arrived, the rain stopped. The clouds moved inland and we have clear skies and the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. By the time we reached the Cape, there were no clouds.

No whales, either. But, there were plenty of birds and plenty of mud. It was a perfect first hike of the season.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night

Another straightforward week, with the same straightforward goals. The good news is I ought to be able to meet them all this time! Heck, you might even get two book reviews this week if I keep to my reading goals.

I’ll need to make up for Monday’s word count, and the 90 words I missed on Sunday if I want to stay on track for the month. Luckily, the book hit a bit of a stride last time I was in front of it, so hopefully that momentum will continue into tonight’s session.

It’s a busy week, work-wise, and there’s a Walk ‘n’ Talk on Thursday. I’d like to have something substantive to talk about while we walk so I’ll need to get some quality work in before then. Thanks to the migraine, I already feel behind.

No time like the present to catch up!

See you all real soon with the review for A Darker Shade of Magic, and then again later in the week to review The City in the Middle of the Night.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Reading Round Up – March 2019

Blogland,

March was another weird month for reading, which is making me think 2019 might just be a weird year for reading. Normally there’d be a lot more book reviews by now and a much higher number on my Goodreads tracker. I don’t think I’ve ever started the year this far behind! But, where there’s a will and all that…

Title: The Black God’s Drumsblack god's drums
Author: P. Djèlí Clark
Format: Paperback Novella
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This is a wildly inventive book with an amazing narration that demanded my attention. In just over 100 pages, there’s an incredible amount of world building and character development. I loved everything about this story and will be on the lookout for more stories from Djèlí Clark.
Recommend: YES! This was an amazing little standalone story, perfect for an afternoon of riveting escapism.

Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fearbig magic
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Elizabeth Gilbert
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: I think there are definitely some gems in this book, but they require some digging and I wasn’t fond of what they’re buried in. Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that she’s a little mystical in her thoughts and processes. I… am not. So, take that with a grain of salt.
Recommend: Eh. If you’ve got nothing better going on and want to read someone’s very specific thoughts and feelings on the creative process, why not?

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societyguernsey
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Format: Hardback
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A fun and surprisingly light read for a book that centers around the aftermath of World War II. I watched the Netflix movie adaptation and loved it, and while the book was just different enough they are very similar. I would even say the movie is better, which I almost never say. For more thoughts, check out my review here.
Recommend: Sure! It’s a sweet read, perfect for vacation or any low-priority reading.

Title: Red Rising: The Sons of Aressons of ares
Author: Pierce Brown and Rik Hoskin
Format: Graphic Novel
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: Bloody and gory and brutal in all the best Red Rising ways. I was never a big fan of Fitchner’s, although I changed my tune a bit toward the end of the series. But, I do love Sevro, and this is as much his origin story as it is the Sons of Ares’.
Recommend: Yep, as long as you’ve at least read the original Red Rising Trilogy, otherwise this is allllll kinds of spoiler-y.

Now that I’m back to just the one job my reading should be back to its speedy-self. I’m starting with Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night, hope to finish Putting the Science in Fiction after that, and then start Trail of Lightning. You see? I’m booked!

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

 

BZ

The Recap – March 2019

March was a crazy month of travel adventures, writing, reading, and working so so much. Considering the utter derailment of my routines thanks to the Cincinnati trip, I’m pretty impressed with my output this month.

March Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • No. BUT! I got really super-di-duper close. If I take out the six days of vacation/travel in the middle of the month, I wrote 491 words a day. So… Win?
  • Read one short story/daywinning gif
    • OMG YES! This was my favorite thing about this month and I’ve screamed my overtures from the twitter rooftops. You can see the full list of stories on the What I’m Reading page.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes! Both “That Which Illuminates Heaven” and “Lifelike” went out to new markets in March and “The Cost of Rain” is still out from the end of January, so fingers crossed everybody!
  • Keep reading!
    • Yep! I read four titles in March. Not a stellar performance but on track with the rest of the year so far.

      Total Monthly Word Count: 12,276

Last month I was really concerned about the time suck Anthem was going to be. Turns out, that wasn’t a concern. The game, while good, failed to pull me in like I thought it would. I enjoyed the story, and only have one mission left before I can call it finished and mentally move on. Which is perfect timing, because Trevor and I have discovered a new couch co-op (where you play together on a split screen) called Outward and we love it so far!

The novel is coming along. I’ve struggled with this middle bit, but I’m feeling optimistic going into April. Things are solidifying in my mind as Tavi’s life unravels and she has to pick up the pieces. The end is coming, I just have to hope there’s still enough words between it and now. I need 25k more before I’m willing to say this draft is done.

Reading a short story a day was an absolute delight. I forgot how much I love short stories, and this was a really wonderful reminder that wonderful stories come in all shapes and sizes. Although, Flash Fiction still has a special place in my heart, I can’t get enough of them.

If you missed my little freak out moment the week before, I got a note from one of the magazines that my story “That Which Illuminates Heaven” is being held for consideration by the Co-Editors. That is very exciting news, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The Assistant Editor liked my story enough to recommend it for consideration. They even used the word “enjoyed”. In reference to my story. A human being that reads and evaluates fiction professionally enjoyed my story. As the Assistant Editor for The Audient Void, I know what that means. I’m pretty critical, and a story needs to impress me if I’m going to send it to Obadiah. And that’s at our super niche, if high quality, market. This is a giant, award nominated professional market… *screaming*
  2. This ups my odds of acceptance at least a fraction. While I’m fully aware that receiving a rejection is still MUCH more likely, the story is competitive at this level and could be accepted. *more screaming*
  3. But, the most exciting part is that my odds of getting a personal rejection is MUCH jd faints gifMUCH higher now. And personal rejections are the gold mines of bad news. I LOVE personal rejections. They are so valuable and life-affirming and often lead to tweaks and edits you couldn’t see on your own. Did I mention I love personal rejections? *faints from all the screaming*

I’m trying not to hang all my hopes on this, which is hard because I do believe that this story is something special. There’s a gap between it and other stories I’ve written so far, like I took a giant leap skills-wise when I wrote it. And it’s very dear to me. It’s very much a part of me, I’m there, in the lines in a way I haven’t been in my other works. I took risks and I’m really hoping they will pay off.

So, yeah, I’m a little bit excited anytime I see love for “That Which Illuminates Heaven”.

Reading last month was slow, mainly because I spent most of my reading time with short stories. I managed to read four titles, which I’ll tell you all about in my Reading Round Up later this week.

April marks the true start of spring here in the Pacific Northwest, which means it’s officially hiking season! Expect to see lots of pictures and hear me complaining a ridiculous amount as my friend Laurel drags me across the state in search of wild beauty in remote locations.

Now, then. What comes next?

April Goals

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

Another straightforward month. I need to focus on this novel and give it the time and attention it deserves, especially in the later stages. Like I said, I’m hopeful going forward and am excited to see where this thing takes me over the course of April.

I’m adding in short story reading because I liked it way too much to stop now. But a short story a day really did cut into my long form reading, so a story a week going forward ought to be a good compromise.

As ever, submissions continue. And as ever, I could hear back about any of them any time now. Although, it’d be really nice if something could sell so my stress level could drop at least a little. Please?

That’s April. I’ll be around with the Reading Round Up later this week, and hopefully have a book review for next week!

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ