The Recap – May 2019

May was a weird month, yo. It started out with this mad dash to get the book done, and then screeched to a crawl as I relaxed and struggled to find my writing legs again in the aftermath.

May Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • YES!!!!!!! It took a concerted effort to get it done on schedule, but I did!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. I received a few rejections this month, but everything is back out and waiting for evaluation.
  • Read a short story each week
    • Not quite. I read four short stories, but there was an extra week in May and I didn’t squeeze one in during that week.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! Since I finished Tavi I’ve read/listened to 10 titles! Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Reading Round Up to learn more.

Monthly Word Count: 20,205

The last leg of writing Tavi was… exhausting. I was a woman possessed, the final chapters gripping me by the collar and dragging me along with them. Words came faster than I could rightly keep up, until the very last few scenes, where they slowed and demanded I pay strict attention to what came before so I could shore up any loose ends. I haven’t gone back to read it yet, but I felt really good about everything came together at the end. If you want to read more about the whole “writing a book” thing, I have a post for that.

Short story submissions continue to continue. This month was a little bit tough because I had a story out for 120 days and received a form rejection on it. I raged a bit at that and I’m still salty whenever I think about it. I’m not convinced I’ll submit to that market again, especially since I bought an issue of their magazine and wasn’t super impressed with what they were publishing. But, I also know that if I have a story that fits their call for submission, I won’t self-reject or hold that story back just because I’m a bit miffed at the magazine. That’s just childish.

I’m (still) waiting to hear back about my story that was held for further consideration. There was a bit of movement at that market recently, with a slew of rejections and a couple of acceptances, but mine is still waiting. I’m trying not to get my hopes up which I’m obviously failing at since I’m talking about it here. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m slowly finishing up Transcendent, with only three short stories left to read. I should have read one more this month, but I just didn’t get it in. Probably because my hike utterly destroyed me this weekend.

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Lava Tube Cave, 20 minutes south of Bend, Oregon

Speaking of, I did a lot of hiking this month! A trip out to Central Oregon, an extremely muddy (and fun) hike at Cape Falcon, and then a long, sunny hike to the picturesque Marion Lake made May a wonderful, surprisingly outdoorsy month. I hiked a total of 15.7 miles this month! Ok, Marion Lake was technically June, but whatever. It was gorgeous and I have lots of pictures to share.

I’m also beginning to see the effects of these weekly hikes. Calf muscles are making themselves known, my thighs are getting slimmer, and my cardio is already greatly improved. There’s also the sunburns turning to tans and a remarkable mental clarity and reduced migraine intensity I hadn’t anticipated. Aside from the sunburns, all good things.

June Goals

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

Right now, I’m not so sure the new short story will be done by the end of the month. It’s been very slow going, and I don’t know if it’s because my brain hasn’t quite recovered from finishing Tavi or if this story’s challenging prose is slowing me down. It’s one of the most craft-forward stories I’ve ever tried to tell, and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s just very very slow so far. 

Marion Lake
Marion Lake, Willamette National Forest

As usual, submissions will continue and continue and continue until something sticks.

I still love reading short stories and have no desire to cut them from my reading. I’ve got a handful of collections checked out from the library right now, so I should be able to get this one done no problem.

I also have a huge TBR stack from the library on my entryway table so there should be plenty of reading and reviews this month. When I’m not reading or writing, I’ll be outdoors. I’m pretty much living for my Saturday hikes, so expect more pictures in the weeks to come.

Sorry this post was a little late, but the good news for you is that you get double the posts from me today! I’ll be back real soon with my weekly goals summary!

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #20

Hey Bloggos,

Last Week

  • Enjoy a week off

Weekly Word Count: 0

Last week felt long. Like, really really long. I had so. much. time! I played video games, went to see Snow Patrol, cleaned the house, played more video games. We beat Overcooked and started on the DLC. I tried to catch up on my reading. It was nice, but I was also very restless. I didn’t feel like I ever really relaxed, until I crossed over the Cascades and started my hiking weekend.

We started with a breakfast in Sisters then drove through Bend and to the Newberry Volcano National Monument, where we explored a Lava Tube Cave. I’d never been in a cave before, and having just read The Luminous Dead, I was understandably nervous. Turns out, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

If you ever have the opportunity to see a cave, you absolutely should. It was an amazing experience, an all new sensation for me that has left me feeling inspired and in awe.

After that was lunch in Bend at a restaurant called Spork, where I ate Lomo Saltado and could have died with joy. We’ve made Lomo Saltado in my house a few times and it’s definitely a household favorite and comfort food. But I’ve never had “real” Lomo Saltado. Turns out, ours is pretty dang close and it’s all delicious. Then we went to Prineville to meet our friend and get settled at her place for the night. We ordered pizza and watched the new What We Do in the Shadows tv show. what we do in the shadowsWe binged all eight episodes over the weekend and I am obsessed with it. I can’t wait to share it with Trevor. If you liked the movie, I’m here to tell you that the show is even better.

The next morning was the big day: The Painted Hills! It’s something I’ve always wanted to see, a natural wonder that I honestly forgot was in Oregon. I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about my passion for geology here, but I’m a bit of a rock nerd. And this weekend my rock nerd was a kid in a candy shop!painted hills 2

It was supposed to rain, but instead it was sunny and I was a dummy in a tank top getting a sweet, sweet sunburn. But I’m not even mad. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place; I’ll take a little pain for it.

We had lunch in one of the tiniest towns I’ve ever seen, called Mitchell, where there were three cafés, a feed store, a grocery story, and one brewery. It was adorable in a very dusty, hard-working, Old West kind of way. It reminded me of home and going to the feed store with my papa. It reminded me that I do have love in my heart for the desert. It made me want to take a hiking trip back home. Maybe next spring?

And then I came home last night and had a great evening in, playing games and making food with the husbando, preparing for the week ahead. Overall, it was a relaxing and productive week in its own right. I’m glad I made myself take a break.

What’s Next?

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

I’m going into this week feeling a little lost at sea. I’m not sure where to start, but I do feel like I have the energy and focus to work on something. It’s just a matter of figuring out what that project will be. I have a couple ideas, but we’ll see where the week goes.

Madhu and I exchanged pages before I left for the weekend. She’s already read mine and replied, and since we have a Walk ‘n’ Talk™ scheduled for Thursday afternoon I need to read hers soon. beneath a sugar sky

I’m on track to finish Beneath a Sugar Sky either tonight or tomorrow and would really like to read All Systems Red before the week is out as well. We’ll see how that goes depending on how much time I spend writing this week. Since I want to revisit Exodus: Descent for revisions this summer, reading all these novellas will prove quite useful.

Submissions are still out. I’m beginning to hear the Jeopardy! theme whenever I have a quiet moment and the dread starts to build. I should hear back on at least one story either this week or the next. Fingers crossed.

I don’t have any book reviews primed for this week, mainly because I’m reading novellas and short stories right now. But, I do want to share my thoughts on the drafting process of this book, so might do a sort of recap talking about the experience. Either way, I’ll come back later this week with something to share.

Until then, Bloggarts,

 

BZ

A Night to Remember

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

Please enjoy these videos that someone else took last night:

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

Now, then. Back to my “vacation”.

 

BZ

The Recap – February 2019

February, as per usual, came and went without hardly pausing to say hello. It’s always a mercurial month here in Oregon, bringing rain, snow, ice, and sunshine in unpredictable turns. You learn to take a coat with you everywhere pretty quick in the Pacific Northwest. And maybe gloves, if you’ve got the nice water resistant kind.

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The Homestead looking Wondrously Wintry.

February Goals

  • Write 8k on Tavi
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!

How’d I Do?

  • Write 8k on Tavi
    • Nope. I wrote a total of 3,628 words on the novel this month. Much less than I wanted, but I’m not wholly unhappy with it.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Sure did. The stories sat in queue for the majority of the month. I’m still waiting to hear about two of them, though That Which Illuminates Heaven received a rejection yesterday. It went out to the next market before I sat down to write this.
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
    • Narp. Not even a little bit. I think I read a little bit of Sanctuary, but that’s it.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read five titles this month, which is a little insane when I think about it. It’s the shortest month of the year, but I put the time to good use, despite my Anthem addiction.

Total Monthly Word Count: 8,273

I wrote about 4500 words for a Valentine’s Day fanfic exchange. Not pertinent to my goals, but still incredibly fun and it allowed me to flex my writing muscles a little as I explored a very complex character from the Mass Effect universe. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and I wrote it in two days, so I’m not going to feel bad about it.

Anthem continues to be absolutely addicting, but I’m almost done with the main story and so my time spent playing should slow a bit soon. Another hurdle to this month was a head cold that walloped me this week. This whole working-two-jobs thing has left me tired and vulnerable to illness and stress, which really puts a damper on my personal and writing goals.

My reading is progressing nicely, though I’m barely keeping up with the Reading Challenge goal I set for myself. This may be the first year I don’t reach my goal, but I love the challenge! Which is the whole point, so yeah.

What else happened in February? I attended an author event at the library, spent way too much time on twitter, and rollercoastered along my work weeks with more emotions than I knew what to do with. I won’t be able to do this for much longer. I need to find a better solution to the library’s unreliable hours.

But, that’s a conversation for another day. For now, let’s talk about what’s to come. Let’s talk about MARCH!

March Goals

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

Here’s the deal. I love video games, but they are HIGHLY addictive for me. I get trapped in them for months. In the case of Dragon Age, sometimes even years. I cannot let that happen with Anthem; I have too much that needs to get done. I need to get this habit under control and set firm boundaries. Which is something I am good at. So, here goes:

I CANNOT PLAY ANTHEM UNTIL THE FOLLOWING HAS OCCURRED:

  1. I have written at least 500 words on my novel
  2. I have read one (1) short story

This is a deal I’ve made with myself. I’ve thought on it a bit and I think it’s not only doable, but necessary. This is a contract, a binding agreement between my gamer self and my writer self. The gamer self will recede to the background until the above is completed, at which point the writer self will cease guilting the gamer self and allow unshackled joy to commence.

That’s the rule. So it is written, shared on social media, and so it will be done.

Why short stories you ask? Well, I’m writing a Library Picks column about Speculative Fiction Anthologies, and I want to at least be able to recommend a story or two out of each one. Plus, I like short stories. I like writing them and reading them, and I’ve been neglecting that part of the market for too long. So I’m taking inspiration from Sam J. Miller, who is reading a short story a day in 2019, and reading a story a day in March.  I am a little worried that this might impact my reading goal for the year, but I still have some titles queued up and waiting, and with travel plans in March I should have some extra reading time.

As always, the short story submissions continue until something sticks. I had a moment at the beginning of the month where I began to feel claustrophobic about the whole process. You know, that feeling where the stress churns in your chest and you’re compelled to pace the room or fiddle with your hair or your nails just can’t seem to avoid the magnetic pull of your teeth. Or some combination of all three. That was me on February first.

wasteland babyToday I’m listening to the new Hozier album, the snow has almost all been washed away by a steady drizzle, and my head cold seems to be on its way out. I feel alert and peaceful, with a mug of hot coffee and the promise of some breakfast after this. February was a big breath that stemmed the tide of burnout, and no I’m ready to move on and get some work done.

I’m sure I’ll have some more ups and downs this month, that I’ll find something new to stress about in the weeks to come. But right now? Right now I am chill as fuck. And I’m going to ride that feeling for as long as I can.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the book review for Lies Sleeping, and then next week will have the usual Goals Summary and the Reading Round Up for February.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 21

Oh, Blogland.

I forgot about the holiday weekend! Or rather, I somehow thought the holiday wouldn’t affect me. Let me tell you, I was oh, so wrong…

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Start Sanctuary chapter 4
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

…And?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp! The book review for Skin Game is up now!skin game
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • … No. Ugh, I was doing so well! But ultimately, social plans really got in the way this week.
  • Start Sanctuary chapter 4
    • Yep! Just over 100 words, but it’s better than nothing! And, luckily, I’m finally kicking that plot into gear!
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
    • Nope. I am having a very rough time with this book. I’m trying not to let it get me down but, it is a struggle.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • You know it! Madhu continues to astound as she plows through her rewrites.

Weekly Word Count: 1,209

Basically, I did good work on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then totally derailed myself on Thursday by spending my day off hanging out with my mother-in-law. I had a great time and really enjoyed the time spent outdoors, but it killed my routine quite thoroughly. Then I worked on Friday, felt the beginnings of a migraine, and medicated.

Saturday found me migraine free and able to go wine tasting with my best friend, which was 100% worth skipping a day attached to my laptop. But, the migraine came back in force, which led to a Sunday spent on the couch napping through Stephen Fry in America.

Then yard work today and a long overdue FaceTime with my grandma means I did no work for days. Whole DAYS! It’s time to get back at it!

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Thoughts

Blog posts will be abundant this week. I have half of the Editing Check-In done, since it was waylaid by this weekend. I’ll also have the May Recap to share on Friday, and hopefully a review for The Master Magician if I can power through it.

I am really close to making my writing goal for this month. I just have to write 2k words over the next three days. I can do that! I can totally do that!

Unfortunately, I am less hopeful about finishing The Master Magician. I have about 70 pages to go, which is nothing, but this book is killing me. And it doesn’t help that the new Snow Patrol album is out and all I want to do is play piano and learn the songs from it.

I expect Madhu’s pages to be great, and a good way to spend my time, yet again. I think we have a Walk ‘n’ Talk planned for this week as well, so that’ll be nice. I’m always confident that I’ll get this goal done each week, I’m less confident that I’ll have enough pages to send her by Wednesday.

So, I just need to buckle down this week and commit to my writing so that I can meet my goals and feel damn good by the weekend! I can do that!

Kill the Farm Boy

I’ll be back soon to share my thoughts on the editing/rewriting process so far and hopefully to talk about The Master Magician, so I can move on to the book I’m actually excited about, Kill the Farm Boy!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

Reading Timeline and Summer Adventures

Yesterday’s writing went very well. I wrote 1,094 words, and finally finished that blasted chapter 5! Today I’ll be digging into chapter 6, and look forward to exploring these characters a bit more.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my reading, as is evident by my most recent posts. Today I made a rough reading outline. It’s more a mental prioritization of what to read.

  1. Finish The Star Scroll
  2. Mitosis
  3. Firefight
  4. The Slow Regard of Silent Things
  5. Sun-Runner’s Fire
  6. Legion
  7. Legion: Skin Deep

After that my personal reading list really opens up. Brandon Sanderson has a ton of short fiction and weird pseudo-publications on his website. As well as links to purchase the ebooks. I may just do that, depending on my experience with Mitosis. So, I might delve into those, and get caught up and research on just what the Cosmere is and what I may have missed out on.

Or…

I could start the next Melanie Rawn series after Dragon Prince, the trilogy Dragon Star.

Or…

I could pick something brand new! Lies of Locke Lamora, Gardens of the Moon, The Castings Trilogy, etc.

Or…

I could try and pick up something that fell by the wayside. The Dark Tower series, where The Wastelands left me a trifle bored. Or The Inheritance Cycle, when Eldest also left me bored. Or The Night Angel Trilogy, which got lost in the commotion of moving almost three years ago.

And these are just the options readily available for me on my shelves at home!

But, my current reading list will probably get me through to late spring/early summer, since school starts Monday. Assigned reading, plus Book Club (which meets to discuss Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café on Wednesday), plus a second job (fingers crossed) leaves me with little, to no personal reading time.

Which may be why I’m gravitating towards short fiction, novellas, and Young Adult novels. I want something that’s easy to pick up and finish quickly.

But, come summer, I’m going to be a reading machine! Trevor and I are going to travel Oregon on weekends and I’m going to read and write in all kinds of beautiful places, hopefully while basking in the summer sun!
newport bend pelican brewing oregon-sea-lion-caves

All’s quiet on the Caladria front. I reckon all the work in the background prepping Fab Fables is keeping everyone real busy. So, I just keep checking, to make sure there’s no feedback on A Stranger Comes Knocking. When there is, I’m sure to post about it.

And so, until Monday, I have quite a bit of freedom. I keep toying with the idea of editing Vessels, but then Jordinn’s Story demands my attention. And Cards is silent, waiting, exactly as it should be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the only reason I’m going to finish the Vessels edits is because I won’t let myself start editing Cards if the first manuscript isn’t complete.

And that’s just fine with me. As long as they get done, I don’t really care what my motivation is.

Speaking of motivation, I have a chapter to write. I’ll see you tomorrow Blogland!

BZ

Home, Sweet Home.

I missed this. I missed sitting, staring at my computer, building worlds in my head and bringing them to life on paper. I missed the smell of coffee brewing, and the screech of milk steaming. I missed the smiling faces that greet me when I walk in, laptop bag hoisted on one shoulder.

And I missed the Pacific Northwest. I missed crisp, fresh air. I missed tap water that actually tastes good. I missed friendly and genuine people, who stop four lanes of traffic to let a jaywalker cross the street. I missed craft beer made by people who have become our friends.

While we were in the land of palm trees and littered freeways, the scenery in Salem changed. Trees that only hinted at the change in seasons are now vibrant shades of orange and red. They sky is still blue, but the color isn’t as saturated as it was during the summer. It’s paling, preparing to give way to the clouds and rain that cast every thing in shades of grey.

And I love it.

Disneyland was wonderful. And exhausting. We had a wonderful time, but by Saturday we were desperate to be back. To be home. Our trip to the Happiest Place on Earth showed us just how much we love our state, city, and home.
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Being home means that finally, life can go back to normal. No wedding to plan, no looming vacations. I can finally say I have free time. Although, we have no money to spend, thanks to an awesome vacation.

So, Tuesday found me sitting at Starbucks, and working. I wasn’t sure what to blog about, and actually felt good about writing, so I skipped my typical warm up and dove straight into fiction. I didn’t go crazy, but still wrote about 920 words. I’ll be finishing the chapter today.

I’m still reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’. It’s kind of slow towards the end, and I’m afraid to finish it, since there’s no word on the third installment. Trevor, who is an adamant non-reader, picked up a copy of the Mazerunner, and didn’t set it down until he finished it. He even stayed up into the wee hours on a work night in order to do so. We just went to Escape Fiction last night to get the next book in the series for him. Needless to say, I am thrilled.

Speaking of series, Sanderson sent his newsletter subscribers a sample chapter from the 3rd Stormlight Archive novel. It was AWESOME! And now I’m desperate for more, which is going to take forever! Drat.

There’s been progress with the Nameless Book Club, since I’ve come back. We’ve agreed on Wednesday evenings as our meeting time, and we’ll probably only meet once a month. I’m going to finalize the booklist, and then I’ll set a date for our first meeting.

School starts next week, which is nerve wracking. I’m feeling good about French, though I’m concerned about the amount of homework there’ll be. But, that’s to be expected from a 7 week online course. What I’m really excited about is my Short Story class. The text is amazing, filled with hundreds of stories from every imaginable author. I’m curious to see how the course is formatted. Will it be purely read, analyze, report? Or will there be discussion elements? I’ll find out soon enough.

I haven’t done much editing lately. I’ve got several people asking after the second draft of ‘Vessels’, and I’m starting to feel bad. I haven’t devoted nearly enough time to it. Pending my progress on ‘Jordinn’s Story’ today, tomorrow I’ll edit a couple chapters.

I’m pretty stoked about things in general right now. Life is calming down, and giving way to new adventures and lots of writing. Always a good thing.

It’s good to be back, Blogland. Now, enjoy these photos from our trip!
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My Handsome Man
My Handsome Man

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A Selfie with the 3D glasses, as is tradition.
A Selfie with the 3D glasses, as is tradition.