2019 Status Update – Something, Something ABBA lyrics…

As ever, the year is flying by, slipping through our fingers all the time. There’s your dose of ABBA. Although that’s a damn sad song to be the anthem of the first six months. Moving on!

Yearly Goals Completed

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • I finished this back in May, which somehow feels like FOREVER ago, and I’m doing everything in my power to ignore it. I need that distance before I begin editing it in September.

2019 Word Count (so far): 80,744

That’s it so far. Granted, that’s a big one. I wrote a book y’all. That’s a task and a half. Blog-wise, here are some numbers:

  • This is the 64th post on the blog this year, making for an average of 2.2 posts per week. That’s on track for my goal of publishing two posts/week for the year. Hurray!
  • As of this writing, the blog has seen just over 45k words, which is in addition to the almost 81k of fiction I’ve written this year.
  • The blog currently has 562 followers, which continues to amaze me. Thanks for reading!

Speaking of reading, how’s that going this year? My goal is 70 titles, which is the highest goal I’ve ever had. I’ve read 36 titles this year, which Goodreads says is “On Track!”, so there’s that! I really don’t know if I’ll eke out this goal, and I’m not even sure I want to. My policy is, if I surpass my goal I have to up the next year’s goal. My dudes, I don’t think I can read more than 70 books in a year.

What about publishing? How’s that going in 2019? Well, I’ve submitted stories 19 times. I’ve had 4 personal rejections, the rest were form. That’s not as much as I’d hope, but the response times were VERY slow through the spring. This is a tough category to quantify because so much of it is out of my hands. The only true metric for my productivity is my own doggedness. The turnaround time between rejections and submitting again. Those are things I’m in control of. And in those areas, I’d say I’m doing well. The rejections hurt less, even the personal ones, and my turnaround times are almost immediate. Stories don’t languish in my files, waiting for me to feel up to submitting them again. They go out right away. So that’s good.

Unrelated to reading and writing, I have gone on eight hikes so far this year! I’ve really loved getting outdoors and being more active. It’s motivated me to walk more during the week and to even hit the gym on occasion when I’m feeling restless. So I’d call that a major benefit.

2019 – Remaining Priorities

  • Finish Santa Sarita
  • Revise Cards
  • Publish SOMETHING!
  • Publish two blog posts/week
  • Read 70 titles.

So… that’s a lot of stuff. The last two, as discussed, I’m on track for. Thank goodness. But the rest? Well, let’s break it down.

Santa Sarita is my giant Mass Effect Andromeda fanfic series, which I started back in April of 2017. It was supposed to be single oneshot, which then turned into several multi-chapter fics and a oneshot collection. Well over 250k words later, I’m working(?) on the last fic in the series. I wanted to finish it this year. Honestly? I have no idea if that will happen. I’ve barely looked at it and am currently utterly uninspired and lack motivation to work on it at all.

Cards is my second novel ever, inspired by the blend of a Wild West setting with magic that I’d read in Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. Still one of my favorite books, by the way. I finished it in the spring of 2014, right before I got married. I have never gone back to read it, and at this point I’m sort of afraid to do so. Because I know it will be a complete rewrite, just like The Steel Armada was. It deals with some really heavy themes of racism and oppression and while my intentions were good, I WAS NOT equipped to handle them back in 2014. I am afraid of what waits for me in those pages. And, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m really equipped to handle those themes today either. I don’t know. The story I set out to tell may not be mine to tell. There’s a lot of rethinking and attention required for this book and I’m not sure I’ll have the time or skills to devote to it in the last half of this year.

Publish something… I knew when I made this a goal that it was risky. It’s something I have absolutely no control over. All I can do is submit, submit, submit until something sticks. I’ve had some really close calls this year, but so far, nothing’s landed. I can’t really do anything about that, except carry on. Good thing I am one stubborn chick.

Other Things To Do

  • Revise Exodus: Descent
    • There aren’t a lot of paying markets for novellas, but a few of them are open this fall and I want Exodus ready to go when the time comes.
  • Decide on a NaNoWriMo project
    • I have no idea what the hell I’ll be working on come November. Maybe finishing Santa Sarita? It’s a possibility. I’ll have family in town from out of state for the holiday, so I need to take that into consideration as well.
  • Keep writing
    • I have plenty of short story ideas, and who knows when a novel idea will pop up? Or you know, I could finish my giant fantasy series. That’s always an option.
  • More hikes
    • I’ve loved my outdoor time this year and hope to continue as long as weather permits.

That’s the year so far and the months yet to come. I don’t have much of a vision for the last half of the year, mainly because I have no idea what my daily life will look like in the coming months. Being unemployed has really thrown a wrench in my routines and my goals. Who knew?

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #25

Hiya Bloggos!

Last week was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. A phone interview, prepping for an in-person interview, a hike, yard work, and a migraine meant there just wasn’t a whole lot of writing time.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Work on something fun!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Sorry about that.
  • Revise In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Yes! A got another revision done, and think I made some critical changes to help with pacing.
  • Work on something fun!
    • Not really? With all the resume building and interview prep, revising Ghosts was my fun work.

Weekly Word Count: 0

I hate writing that. Even when word count wasn’t a big goal, it feels bad to say I wrote nothing in a whole week. But I was busy, and very very distracted. I could very well be unemployed at the end of this week, so you know. I’ve got a lot going on in my brain right now.

One thing that helped with that was a hike at Cape Meares. Two weeks off from my weekend hikes had me winded for most of the morning, and was a harsh reminder that it’s so easy to lose forward momentum when it comes to fitness.

Another thing that helped was bingeing The Great British Bake Off and Good Omens. I love them both and found them so uplifting when my world was very suddenly dark.

Revisions on the short story continue. I think I fixed the big problem and from here I think it’ll be about streamlining the story, cutting, and making the words sing. I think placing it will be tricky. It’s a quiet story that doesn’t really fit into any one genre. But that’s okay. I believe that writing stories for ourselves is the most important thing. I wrote a story that I wanted to tell, and either I’ll find an editor that loves it like I do, or I won’t. And that’s okay.

These past couple weeks have been a big lesson in accepting the things I cannot change. You’d think, having grown up at AA meetings, I’d know how to do that already, but it’s been difficult. I like having control (who doesn’t) and when life gets out of control, I tend to panic. I’m doing a lot of deep breathing these days.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Read something!

That’s it. I want to keep it simple this week. Read something, edit a bit, talk on the blog. Pretty much just get out of my head and onto the page. I’ll be waiting for news about an interview this week, and if I don’t do something escapist I will go insane. I’d really prefer not to.

That’s it Bloggarts. This is all I’ve got for you. The adrenaline of this morning’s interview is ebbing and I am so very tired now. I’ll be around.

 

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

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

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #18

Last week was a blur. I had so many social activities, writing activities, and spent so much time with my fingers to keyboard that I can’t really remember the details of the week beyond “I wrote lots.”

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1000 words/day on Tavi

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1000 words/day on Tavi
    • Oh my goodness yes. We’re getting really close to calling this one done, Bloggos. Like, really really close.

Weekly Word Count: 10,613

Image result for final countdown gif

Where do I start? I upped my word count goal to 1k/day because I NEED to get this book done before the week of the 13th. I wasn’t confident that I could meet that goal, not at all. But, not only is it good to get used to writing to a deadline, but I don’t want to think about my book (especially the ending) when I should be enjoying my celebrations. Snow Patrol and a hiking trip in the same week. I CANNOT be mulling over a book that week.

Don’t know if you noticed, but I met and exceeded my goal. A big part of that was the Write Here, Write Now event on Saturday, where I spent almost four hours writing. It was a great day and I fully intend to go again next year.

My reading slowed down a little this week, probably because I spent so much time writing. But I still read Every Heart a Doorway and should finish the sequel Down Among the Sticks and Bones this week.

I also launched my Patreon this week! As you may know, Patreon is increasing their rates starting tomorrow, and I’d been sitting on my page doubting whether I should launch it or not. This change was reason enough to go live, and I’m having fun planning my first round of rewards. I’m sharing a lot of free writing advice there as well as a Newsletter and Original Fiction, so you should take a look.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi rough draft

That’s it folks. That’s all I want to do this week. Write a book review for The Luminous Dead, share my reading recap, and finish this book. I’ll have to write another 7k words or more to make it happen, and I don’t have a writing event this weekend, so it’s going to be a near thing. Please send me all your motivation and discipline.

I’m going on a hike this weekend, to Cape Falcon, so expect photos and the usual complaints. I also have a Walk ‘n’ Talk with Madhu. It’d be amazing if the book were done by then, but it’s highly unlikely. Which is for the best, since endings are tricky and I’ll probably need to talk through it a bit to nail it down.

Luckily there are no pressing social activities this week so ought to be able to hunker down and get this book finished!

Wish me luck, Bloggarts.

I’ll be around this week with a book review and the reading recap for April, so keep an eye out for those.

Until then,

 

BZ

 

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 #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