Goals Summary 2019 – Wk# 42

After, like, two months of inconsistent output and an inability to do much of anything in a timely manner, last week felt like coming back to the gym. Harder than it should be, but oh so wonderful once I actually got to work.

(Full Disclosure: I rarely go to the gym and never feel good about it upon any sort of return. I used the metaphor because I figured it was relatable, not because it was something I ever actually experienced.)

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Read one short story
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s Secret

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog postsVicious
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Yes! It was easier than expected and I’m happy with how it turned out.
  • Read one short story
    • No. The weekend was a lot busier than I expected.
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s Secret
    • Yes. Through sheer force of will.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Again, it always feel shitty when the word count says zero, even when that was the plan. But, this was actually a really productive week. I did my editing, I read a book, I wrote a few blog posts, and went to a totally awesome library conference and even managed to sneak in some time to see some whales in the sunrise. I have zero complaints.

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Oregon is so freaking gorgeous.

The revision of Exodus is off to a great start. Chapter one required some obvious cleaning up (mostly those pesky dialogue tags I seem to love in my earliest drafts) but nothing that broke my brain. Hopefully this will be the case for the entire project.

I’m thinking about what to write for Nanowrimo and I think I’m going to work on the sequel to Exodus. I had a spark of an idea today while I was driving home so we’ll see if it develops into anything actionable by November.

I should write a review for The First Wife’s Secret, but I’m kinda afraid to. I hated it. Like, the worst Goodreads rating I’ve ever given, hated it. And I’m not sure what the point of a review like that would be. It’s liable to turn into something pretty ugly and I don’t want that. Regardless of how I feel about it, the author put a lot of time and effort into her work and I don’t want to be a jerk about it. I don’t trust myself NOT to be a jerk about it, because I have a lot of feelings. So… there may not be a review this week, despite finishing the book.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
  • Read a short story

I sat here for a while struggling to come up with a fourth goal for the week, but figured if it was that hard to figure out, I probably didn’t really need to make it a goal. I sort of want to work on brainstorming and outlining the Exodus novella I want to write for Nano, but I really think I need to spend a bit more time back in the world first. Which editing will do nicely.

I have a bajillion books out from the library right now, one of which is Kameron Hurley’s new collection of short stories. Which I am DYING to read. So, yeah. I’m gonna read one of those ding dang stories this week. Pinky promise.

This weekend is my bestie’s thirtieth birthday, so I doubt I’ll be much use on Friday or Saturday. Thankfully Sundays seem to be my best day for writing work right now and I never have plans on Sundays. What a coincidence!

I may be back later this week with some news, which if you follow me on twitter or tumblr you already know about because I screamed it into the ether-net. But, I want to cool my jets a little and give this post its space before I share anything else.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

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

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #21

Whoops. Memorial Day got me all confused, I nearly forgot to post my Monday update! I’ve spent the entirety of my day snacking on the couch while I explored Ancient Egypt in Assassin’s Creed: Origins. So much relaxation!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start a new short story
  • Read Madhu’s pages
  • Finish reading Beneath a Sugar Sky

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog postsbeneath a sugar sky
    • Nope. Sorry about that.
  • Start a new short story
    • Yep! It’s coming along rather slowly at the moment.
  • Read Madhu’s pages
    • Yes!
  • Finish reading Beneath a Sugar Sky
    • Yarp, and then some!

Weekly Word Count: 465

Starting a new story is always a risky thing. Some come out the gate strong, knowing who and what they are. All they need is for me to sit down and devote the time to typing. Other stories are full of false starts and halfway there’s before the true tale unfolds and finally comes together. This new story is one of the latter kinds. It knows what it wants to be, I just have to keep trying until I get it right. I’m hoping slow and steady will do the trick.

I did a ton of reading last week. I finished Beneath a Sugar Sky, and read both All Systems Red and Artificial Condition. I even eked in the first 50 pages of Rogue Protocol. So, that’s part of why there was no second blog post: I was too busy reading! I also watched some nature documentaries, because nothing quite equals relaxation like David Attenborough’s voice.

There was also the matter of a very muddy, pleasantly tiring hike to Cape Falcon on Saturday and the fact that I worked six days last week. Looking back, I was surprisingly busy.

Aaaaand, this week is going to be more of the same.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1k on In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Finish reading Murderbot books

This week is a busy one at work again, working another six days. Throw in a hike on Saturday and all the reading I want to get done before the end of the month and, well. It’s gonna be a busy damn week.

The good news is that I have a playlist built for the new story and like the most recent direction it’s headed. I think some of the previous work I have for it can even be incorporated, so that’s good! As long as my butt is in the chair, I should see some good progress on the story this week. Murderbot-novellas

I want to finish Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, read the newest Wic+Div, and read two short stories this week… I’m tired just thinking about it. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are my best bets for writing, with reading time happening before bed. And I have another hike this weekend, Marion Lake, which is up in the mountains and comes with its own falls. It promises to be chilly and gorgeous. Expect photos once again.

So, yeah. That’s the plan. Write, read, work, repeat. Sound good?

I’ll try to finally write that Post-First Draft post this week. I think I wrangled my thoughts into something like coherence. I guess we’ll find out!

Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

The Weirdest Weekend of My Life

Bloggos,

“Oregon Writers Colony 31st Annual Writers Conference”. It has a very serious ring to it. It sounds old and distinguished and… important.  It’s hosted in this remodeled 1900s boarding house that’s completely author-themed and overlooks Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon. The conference is always held in April, a stormy and tumultuous time on the coast.

I came prepared to do work. I brought my MacBook, a notebook, and a collection of vibrant pens for color-coded notes. I was prepared to learn from someone who wrote a large, five book fantasy series about injecting my fictional worlds and characters with life.

What I did not prepare for was Ken Scholes’ boundless energy and his enthusiasm for folk music. Particularly Simon & Garfunkel.

KEn at OWC

What I did not prepare for was late night karaoke with Tim Travaglini, the Literary Agent™, in a dive bar whose moniker we decided to interpret as “literary”.

moby-dick-s-at-newport

What I did not prepare for was making new friendships and cementing old ones.

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Admittedly, the conference was more like a retreat. There were about 40 people in attendance, maybe five of which were not of retirement age. None of which were male. The three men present who were not the guests of honor were the husbands attached to writers in attendance. These writers have gone to the conference for years, some even decades! They all knew each other and spent a majority of their meals and free time reminiscing about conferences past.

As a newbie, and the youngest person by about a decade, it was a bit alienating. But, there was just enough Cabernet Sauvignon to fortify me, and when that ran out, the Pinot Noir made up the difference.

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Dousing my fears in blood red wine, repping The A.V.

My biggest goal for the conference was to “Network”. You know. Meet people in your field, make an impression, develop contacts. This is not a natural activity for me. I tend to avoid new people and social situations that are likely to demand I interact with anyone I don’t already know. If I hadn’t known Madhu ahead of time, I honestly don’t know if I would have kept it together over the weekend.

But, I did know her, and where before we were “Writing Buddies” I now consider her my friend. It’s about an hour and a half to the Sylvia Beach Hotel from Salem, a long enough drive to be really awkward if it turned out we didn’t get along. Instead we talked about all kinds of things, from our personal lives to our writing, to our hopes for the weekend.

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Me and Ken being dorks.

Ken’s lectures were mad dashes through his writing process, and though some found his methods hard to follow, I found I had a lot in common with him. We both write “straight through”, from beginning to end. Then we go back and develop the plot lines and characters in our revisions. We can also, when at peak writing performance, write about 1-2k words an hour.

It was really nice to discover that my personal strategy for writing has been successful with someone else.

Beyond discussing Ken’s process and general lack of structured organization (no outlines, no storyboards, no corkboards or color-coding) we did a pretty fun idea building exercise with post-it notes. I didn’t personally find this exercise all that useful, since I have no shortage of story ideas, but useful and fun don’t have to coincide.

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Did I mention it was stormy on the beach?

Then there was the Pitch with the Agent™. Each of us had a ten minute window where we met with Tim to talk about basically whatever we wanted. I pitched The Steel Armada to him, he asked a bunch of questions about it, then said, “feel free to send it to me.”

I, of course, assumed he said that to everyone. He did not. He did clarify the next day that, though he’s technically closed to queries, we are all able to query him because we went to the conference.

(An email sent later in the week further expanded on how to do so, per our conversation with him in the pitch.)

I treated the pitch like an interview. I kept the conversation professional, spoke about my other projects, and really talked about The Steel Armada with the most enthusiasm I’ve felt for the project in a long time.

This was all before the karaoke, by the way.

We went to dinner, managed to sit with Tim (the Agent™), and that set the course for the evening. Lots of laughter and conversation led to more wine in the library while Ken played guitar. After some cajoling Tim agreed to get up and sing with Ken, which led him to suggest karaoke.

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They sang America by Simon & Garfunkel, Tim tousled his hair just for the occasion.

Now, you may not know this about me, but karaoke is literally my jam. Naturally, I had to go. A group of us was all excited at the prospect of singing the night away until everyone bailed but me and Tim.

A five minute car ride and a u-turn later, we enter Moby Dick’s to find Newport’s finest wailing (heh, get it?) away at the mic. It’s 11:45pm on a Saturday, but there were maybe 20 people in the building, and only a handful of them were there for the singing. So, Tim and I had a couple of beers, I sang a couple songs while he lamented the KJ’s lack of Pork ‘n’ Beans by Weezer and then we argued about the hotel’s staunch “no WiFi” policy the whole drive back.

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The view from our room, the Agatha Christie.

(Turns out, there IS WiFi and Tim was special enough to get the code. Which he then gave to me to prove his point. Joke’s on you Sylvia Beach Hotel! I know your secrets!)

We were both worse for wear the next morning at breakfast, but I think it was totally worth it. Hopefully he does too.

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Nothing a little caffeine, beach view, and solitude can’t fix.

The last day was wrap up with Ken, where I made a great Arrested Development joke no one heard (there’s always money in the Apple Stand!), and then a Q+A session with Tim.

He had some really great answers to questions like “what are your options when the rights revert to you?” (aka, your book is no longer in print) and “How does (he) cope with the multitude of queries he gets?” (over 1k/month, he had to close to submissions to catch up), and “does self-publishing affect an author’s chance of traditionally publishing?” (Not really. It’s definitely not a negative, though you’re unlikely to sell self-published work, he’s more interested in what the current project is).

Et cetera, et cetera.

And then it was lunch, where my people engine officially ran out of gas. We beat a hasty retreat back to the car and drove back to Salem through some of the angriest weather I’ve seen on the coast. It was kind of nice.

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Who knew so many shades of grey could be so beautiful?

Ultimately, the OWC 31st Annual Writers Conference wasn’t what I expected. But, I put my best foot (and voice) forward, met a bunch of people, and for the first time really felt like I was doing the right thing by writing fiction. I was in my element, I was the ultimate version of myself, and I came away feeling inspired and excited to finish these revisions and finally get this book done.

I’d say that makes the weekend a major success.

Now if I can just hide away for about a month, I might be able to get all that energy back.

 

BZ

 

 

 

Finally, the Announcement!

Blogland,

I finally got the green light to share this awesome news with you all! If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or even Tumblr, then you might already be privy to this, so bear with me.

Remember that scholarship I applied for back in February? I talked about it a couple of times, but tried to keep my excitement level to a minimum to avoid dashed hopes. I applied at the end of February, submitting a writing sample and a small bio to the Oregon Writers Colony.

Well, I found out two weeks ago that I won! I’m going to the conference for free, with the room and my meals paid for!

The conference is held at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, which is a “hotel for book lovers”. Every sylvia-beach-hotel-newport-oregonroom is themed for a different author and the hotel sits on a bluff looking out onto Nye Beach. Many of the rooms have ocean views, and even if they don’t, they have a view out onto the little garden. The hotel is a blast from the past. It’s an old boarding house, completely rebuilt in 1909, so the rooms all have their own sinks but most share bathrooms. Technology is at a minimum there. No phones, radios, or televisions in the rooms, and no wifi on the premises.

It’s a place for reading, writing, and contemplation. And, when the contemplating becomes too tedious, there’s shopping and dining just a block up in the historic Nye Beach district.

There’s also a fancy restaurant, the Tables of Content, where dinner is served family style. You sit in a group and eat and talk, making a point to mingle and make friends. I’m nervous about this aspect, since I’m terrible in new social circumstances, but I am bound and determined to be sociable!

So, as if the hotel wasn’t cool enough, I’ll be there with other writers to learn from author Ken Scholes (Psalm of Isaak series) and agent Timothy Travaglini. A whole weekend devoted to learning about and working on my writing in an environment especially designed for just such purposes.

Sounds like heaven.

There’s still a bit of mystery surrounding the event for me. I don’t know which room I’ll be assigned, and there is a chance I’ll be in one of the shared rooms. So, I don’t know who I might be bunking with either. I know that check-in is at 4pm and that wine and snacks will be in the third floor library that evening so that everyone can meet and mingle.

I’m pretty sure the promise of wine is the only thing that will give me the strength to go. That and I really want to see this library that looks out onto the Pacific ocean!

So, yeah. That’s my news. I’m really excited, and I can’t believe I only have to wait one more week! I’m going to take so many pictures and notes, so I’ll be back with a full update after the conference!

I’ll be back this weekend with the Binti review and then this week will be over before you know it!

Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ