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

 

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

 

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

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.