Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #17

I just got out of a webinar called “How to Survive and Succeed as a Writer”. They talked about goal setting and time management the entire time. Turns out, I might be onto something here, folks.

Last Week

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

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • Uhhhhh. YEAH! Like, a bit more actually.
  • Finish reading The Light Brigadethe light brigade
    • Yep! Finished it Wednesday night, and started on The Luminous Dead Thursday night. I stayed up late last night to finish it.

Weekly Word Count: 5,436

Um… Yeah. You might say I had a productive week. Every time I sat down to write, words poured out of me. I surpassed my word count goals by Thursday, and came back to the manuscript on Sunday to just add a little icing to the cake.

I was also a reading machine this week, finishing two books and slowly climbing my way back on track for my yearly goal.

Short story submissions continue to wait. I think this is the longest I’ve every waited to hear back on a story, with all of them pending for 50 days or more. It’s exhausting, but also kind of nice. I’m starting to forget about them. I check The Submission Grinder once or twice a day and then move on. It’s sinking in that I’ll find out when I find out and no amount of analyzation will change that. It’s… freeing, really.

Thursday night was the SFWA Reading in Portland, which was amazing. I got to meet Sam J. Miller, Rebecca Roanhorse, Kari Maaren, and Caitlin Starling (who wrote The Luminous Dead). Plus, there was good food and beer!

octopope

Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day and I celebrated with visits to two of the bookstores in town. Ken Scholes, who was the lecturer at the OWC writing conference last year, was at one and we shot the shit for awhile, leading to two introductions to writers in my community. So that was AWESOME! Then I went to Book Bin to attend a couple panels and then celebrate the release of the newest issue of The Audient Void.

It was a very busy, bookish week, which I loved. But I’m tired right now. I want to lock the door to my office and barricade myself in until this book is done. Unfortunately, I have yet another busy week ahead of me.

What’s Next?

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

That’s it. This week and next are about finishing this book. I have just over four chapters left if the story sticks to the outline. It won’t. But I can dream. And this is the dream that’s gonna make sure I buckle down and finish this book. Point is, it’s close. It’ll be done sooner than later at this rate.

But, this week is a busy one. Tonight is the annual Mug Club dinner at Salem Ale Works, then Wednesday night we’re going to see a showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark at the historic theatre in town. And then Saturday is Write Here, Write Now.  At least that’s an entire day devoted to nothing but writing. I’m banking on some serious productivity that day. Between work and social engagements, it’s going to be tough to write as much as I need to to stay on track.

Though it isn’t an official goal this week, I will still be reading. Today I’m starting Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children novella series, and I’ll probably read a Deadpool comic too. Because of all the reading lately there will be a lot of activity on the blog. I’ve got the Monthly Recap this week and The Light Brigade review. The week after that is the Reading Round Up and The Luminous Dead review.

Busy busy busy. Busy B, that’s me!

I’ll be around this week Bloggos, so stay tuned.

 

BZ

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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

 

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

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #12

Blogland,

This was a pretty uneventful week, which is exactly what I wanted after the week of travel.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Clean the office

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • Nope. There was progress, but not half so much as there should have been.
  • Clean the office
    • Yes! I did this right after posting last week’s Goals Summary and it has been so wonderful to have my space tidy and… clear? It was spiritually freeing to have my room back in shape.

Weekly Word Count: 1,479

So, yeah… about this week. I honestly am not sure what happened. I just didn’t find much time. I didn’t make time. My free time was spent making delicious dinners with my husband, reading short stories, and watching Jeopardy. And… it was pretty nice.

The Walk ‘n’ Talk on Thursday was a long one, as expected, but we discussed a lot of great stuff and I think Madhu is very close to querying and getting her story out in the world. Trev and I went to video game trivia and came in 4th, just the two of us, so that was pretty neat. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the David Barker signing like I’d hoped to because by Friday I was pretty worn out.

I have a tiny bit of news in regards to submissions. My newest short story “That Which Illuminates Heaven” has been sent on to the final round of consideration at a very well-respected Professional Market! While this is insanely exciting news, it also means I’ll be waiting even longer to hear back about it, so my nervous energy has ratcheted up accordingly.

Image may contain: text
This was a great email to wake up to Friday morning!

But, the best news I have is that I finally made the decision to quit my second job! This week is my last week working at Starbucks, which means next week is going to have a lot more free time to get work done.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Keep reading!

And that’s it. I’m working something like 47 hours this week and I just don’t think it’s reasonable to expect more from myself than blogging and writing. I’ll be reading a short story a day still, and if I’m focused I’ll hopefully finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. city in the middle of the night

But, that’s it for this week. Focus, get work done at a steady pace, and prepare to bust ass in April.

I’ll be around this week with a bonus Craft Discussion, and maybe a book review if my book just grabs me and refuses to let go. Next week will be a busy one on the blog with the usual weekly update, the monthly recap, and the reading round up.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #9

Blogland,

Welcome to the first week of March! Spring is trying to make itself known, with blue skies and sunshine galore, but there’s more snow on the horizon. Hopefully it won’t impact our travel plans, because we go on vacation this weekend!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog postslies sleeping
  • Finish Tavi chapter 13
  • Finish reading Lies Sleeping

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Three posts total.
  • Finish Tavi chapter 13
    • Yes!!! I had a bit of a breakthrough this weekend which led to lots of words in a short amount of time.
  • Finish reading Lies Sleeping

Weekly Word Count: 3,389

Last week started out on the totally wrong foot. Burnout from Starbucks coupled with a head cold had me grumpy, tired, and beyond frustrated with pretty much everything. I had to leave work early on Thursday I felt so poorly, and the four hour nap I took really helped.

This is the part where I give my husband a shout out, because he made sure to keep me medicated, hydrated, and fed while I was a mewling snot monster. I think he’s directly responsible for my quick recovery. So thanks, Babe!

I rode out the last few days of February with little motivation and a lot of Anthem. But once March hit I knew it was time to kick things back into gear. As discussed in the February Recap, I’ve set some rules for myself in the month of March: read a short story each day and write at least 500 words a day on my novel. So far, that’s working really well.

Granted, it’s only the fourth. But hey, I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

awkward but cool.jpg
Cool kid, but also awkward as hell.

Also, Audient Void Publishing had a little get together to celebrate and sign copies for the release of Half in Light, Half in Shadow by David Barker. You can get your signed limited edition copy today!

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write Tavi Chapter 14
  • Have a great time on vacation!

Really, as long as I keep up my word count and read a short story a day, I’ll be happy with this coming week. Vacation always changes priorities a bit, but I’m hoping to maximize the plane time for writing and reading. And if it means I get up a little earlier than Trev to snag a continental breakfast and do some writing, so be it.

fiona
Now two years old, she’s not so little anymore!

We’re going to Cincinnati, which I know seems strange, but from all reports it’s an up and coming city with a blossoming food and beer scene. And it’s somewhere we’ve never been before, so we’re excited to see it for ourselves.

And Fiona the hippo! Duh!

Honestly, at this point, I’m just looking forward to some free time spent with the hubs doing what we do best: eating and drinking. We’re intentionally keeping this trip itinerary free; we’ll go see and do whatever strikes us at the time and explore freely. I can’t wait.

Barring any writing related excitement, the blog might be pretty quiet this week. I still have the February Reading Round Up scheduled for Friday, and I will make time in Cincinnati to post the usual goals summary on Monday.

So until then, Blog-buddies!

 

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.

IMG_20190225_172904
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