Book Review – Skin Game (Dresden Files #15) by Jim Butcher

Bloggos,

Excuse me for a moment.

 

STARS AND STONES, THANK GOODNESS FOR THIS BOOK!

 

Ahem.

Right. Now that’s out of the way, on to the actual review. Beware some spoilers ahead, but let’s be real, this book has been out for almost four years. If you’re like me and arriving late to the party, you’ve probably come across worse spoilers on the internet than these.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

skin game.jpg

After two full books of Dresden moping over the events at Chichen Itza and the decisions that led him to be Mab’s Winter Knight, we finally see the Harry Dresden we know and love back in action!

Harry’s spent the last year-ish on Demonreach, keeping himself busy with homemade obstacle courses and shouting “parkour” at the top of his lungs. Let me tell you, hearing James Marsters yell that over the course of this book never got old. I laughed every single time.

Mab shows up and whisks Dresden off to a meeting with Nicodemus Archleone. Now, anytime Harry and good ol’ Nick are in scene together is damn good reading. Tension galore, and usually even more of sassy pants Harry than usual. You know how Dresden gets when faced with a “big bad”; snark-a-palooza.

So, turns out, Mab owed Nicodemus a favor? And as payment she’s loaning her Knight to him as he attempts to rob a supernatural vault filled to the brim with occult artifacts. Previous experience tells us that anything Nicodemus wants cannot possible be good, and Dresden does NOT want to help the Knight of the Blackened Denarius.

But we also know that Mab never reveals all her cards at once. And she’s always stacked the deck in her favor. So, off Harry goes to join a preternatural heist and he brings Murphy with him. Some old characters and new ones come in and out, including Michael, Uriel, Butters, Mouse, and Bob.

dresden-thomas
Who wouldn’t want more time with this guy?

This book felt like an old school Dresden book. There was adventure, forces of good and evil, sneaky faeries, and insane stakes and odds. Lots of sharp, humorous dialogue too. The only thing missing was some quality Thomas time, which I usually think is lacking because there’s always room for more time with Thomas Raith.

If you read my review of Cold Days, you’ll remember that I had a lot of doubts about Dresden and this series moving forward. Changes, Ghost Story, and Cold Days were all decent stories, but they were trying for me. I didn’t agree with Harry’s actions or motivations for most of those books and found my enjoyment of the series really depended on the side characters.

Skin Game does not suffer from that. This is the book where Harry gets his groove back, if you will. And I have to say, I am so glad he’s back! Of course, it remains to be seen what happens in the next book, since it still doesn’t have a release date, but for the first time in a few books, I have high hopes! This book really saved the series for me, I think, or at least revived it enough that I’ll be sure to come back for the next one.

I hesitate to say that this was my favorite of all the Dresden books, mainly because I loved Blood Rites and Dead Beat so much. But, I would lump it into a top three with those two in a heartbeat.

Here’s hoping that Peace Talks can keep that momentum going.

Yet again, James Marsters gave a stellar performance as Harry and company. I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and effort it must take to read and record these novels and keep the characters consistent across all of them. It really blows my mind if I think about it too much.

I’m moving on to the first Dresden short story collection, Side Jobs, just in time for the release of the second one on June 5th. Brief Cases appears to only be available in digital audio, which I am not okay with. I’ve got a hold on the hard copy book and suggested my digital library service purchase a copy of the audio, but have yet to hear back about it. either way, I’ll review it and share my thoughts with you all here.

You know, as per usual.

Honestly, I’m getting a little anxious about being all caught up on this series. I’ve had The Dresden Files as my back up read for so long that it became a sort of security blanket. If I ever found myself without a shiny new book, I could fall back on Dresden. Harry would always be there, waiting in the wings to whisk me off to Chicago for supernatural high jinks.

And now… now I’m done? I mean, yeah, there are a couple short story collections left, but that’s it! I’ve read all the books, I’ve read all the graphic novels. After these two collections, I’m stuck waiting for the next book like every body else!

Oh, God. That’s sounds terrible!

Quick! Someone give me a series recommendation!

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 20

Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Reading, writing, and helping a friend tackle some major yard projects while the weather was nice helped my time go real quick. We also finished a campaign of Arcadia Quest, which was a lot of fun.

But enough talk about fun, there was work to be done!

Last Week:

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • YES! This has been going very well so far. I’m not technically writing every day, but I’m crossing the 3500 word mark each week, so I’d say that counts.
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
    • Yes! Finally! This took longer than I liked, but it’s done and I’m ready to move on to the next one.
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
    • No. But, I did finish listening to Skin Game, so I feel like that’s a win.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course! She’s making a lot of quality changes and working hard on her novel. It’s good to have someone to work in tandem with; it’s inspirational!

Weekly Word Count: 4,803

I don’t have a whole lot to reflect on today. Rewriting The Steel Armada is going well, and I have some very nebulous thoughts and ideas about where the story is going and what format will let me tell the story best. It’s beginning to look like I might be taking a very roundabout route to getting to the real story, which is somewhat disappointing. But this is also a huge learning experience for me. This is my first novel, so there’s is a lot to learn.

But, I’m not going to commit to any further changes until I get more words down. I just crossed the 12k mark, which is good, but not quite enough to start making big decisions.

Sanctuary is coming along slowly. It’s the project I work on when I’ve reached my goals everywhere else and I still have some creative juice left. That’s not often the case, so sadly Sara and Reyes are taking a back burner.

I also opened up my NaNoWriMo project from last year and proofread it this week. It’s a crossover fic of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Mistborn: Second Era, just over 52k words. A tumblr friend is doing illustrations for each chapter, and then we’ll post it as a weekly serial, starting in November. Since we’ve got the time, I’m going to start doing some simple edits and fleshing out certain scenes.

wayne and wax triptych
Mistborn Era 2 triptych by Marc Simonetti

… You know, in my downtime.

I did receive my form rejection from the magazine I sent The Cost of Rain to, so there’s that. However, I console myself that the story “reached the highest level of consideration” before being declined. It’s a professional level magazine that accepts about 2% of the submissions it receives. I’d say this rejection isn’t all that bad.

I still haven’t heard back about Lifelike. It’s been 30 days. I’m trying very, very hard not to get my hopes up. Very, very hard.

That was my week. Lots of writing, reading/listening, and nail-biting as I awaited submission news.

So, what’s next?

  • 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

Thoughts

I’ve got a couple different posts lined up for this week. The Skin Game review and Editing Check In #2. If I get any news on the submission front I’ll share that too. And you know, I might just have some personal rant or observation that might eke its way onto the blog.

The Steel Armada continues! Just writing away, trying to figure out where this story is headed and how I can help it be the best version of itself. I’ll have more on this subject later this week.

Oh, Sanctuary. I want to spend more time with you. I do. Maybe I’ll finally make some headway in this department. I’ve got a pretty good outline of events, I know what scenes come next, but the plot has (yet again) grown out of my control. The whole point of this fic was to wrap up the Santa Sarita series completely, not keep it alive forever.

The Master Magician is going kinda slow. If it doesn’t pick up and end on a high note, I might not bother with The Plastic Magician. It’s all feeling a bit underwhelming, so far. But, it’s quick and easy reading at least.

I haven’t received Madhu’s pages yet, but I’ve been promised some new scenes with one of my favorite characters, so I’m looking forward to that.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and my best friend will be in town! We’re going wine tasting on Saturday and I cannot wait! Other, non-writing things I need to do include figuring out where the heck my birth certificate is, applying for my passport, and enjoying the weekend with friends and family.

I’ll be back this week to talk about The Steel Armada rewrites, and to share my review of Skin Game.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Book Review – Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Bloggos!

After a brutal migraine derailed my plans last weekend, I am finally here to talk about Blackfish City!

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

blackfish city
I absolutely love this cover, and it glows in the dark!

Blackfish City is Miller’s first adult novel, and it sets the bar quite high for his subsequent works. There is so much to love in this book. An extremely diverse cast in a wildly imaginative setting face horribly realistic challenges in world ravished by climate change.

Qaanaaq is a floating city anchored to a geothermal vent in the arctic circle. All its heat and energy are siphoned from the vent below the city’s eight arms. I pictured it like a giant floating, eight-pointed, star-shaped steel dock. Each arm is a neighborhood, distinct from the others in wealth, culture, and populace. The city is very vibrant and alive, very much its own character in the story, as shown in the City without a Map segments of the narrative.

Technology plays a very vital role in the city, and Miller’s leaps in tech uses and ability are at once incredibly original and wonderfully plausible. Implants that act as smartphones, podcasts delivered direct to your ear via vibrations from the implant, etc. I’d love to get my hands on some of that!

I was extremely impressed by how much I loved Qaanaaq. And how quickly. It’s a gritty, visceral place full of despair and hope, and that’s established within the first few pages of this book.

Blackfish City Alternate
Alternate cover

Some ratings and reviews I’ve read complain about the early pages of the book, citing that it was too slow and the learning curve too steep. I, personally, disagree. The pace is purposefully meandering, showing the full breadth of Qaanaaq as the reader follows the characters through their ever day lives. The book is very atmospheric in tone early on, and then shifts to a more plot-driven pace once all the pieces are set in place.

Speaking of characters, there are several. The first we meet is Fill, a young, wealthy gay man who has just been diagnosed with the breaks, a sexually transmitted psychological disease. More on that in a minute. He’s also the only point of view character who is white. Everyone else is Inuit or part-Inuit.

Then there’s Ankit, an assistant to Arm Six’s political representative. She hates her job, but she worked hard to get it, and it gives her a slim opportunity to actually help the people around her.

Kaev is a journeyman fighter, owned by the a crime syndicate and paid to convincingly throw fights in the syndicate’s favor. Fighting is all he knows, all he lives for, and all he’s good for. Kaev shows us what the breaks can do to a person, shattering their consciousness with interruptions of memories that aren’t theirs until eventually they “break free from their body”. Their minds snap and their bodies die. And there is no cure.

And then there’s my personal favorite, Soq. Soq’s a messenger who uses magnetic boots to basically skate around the city at breakneck speeds to deliver anything and everything, legal and… not so much. They are genderfluid, use they/them pronouns, and are beyond pissed off at Qaanaaq. They can’t decide if they want to watch it burn or bring it to heel, but all they know is that someday, they’ll have the power to make that choice.

Masaaraq
Sketch by the author

And of course, there’s the Orcamancer, the woman whose arrival sets the story of Blackfish City into motion. Masaaraq, the woman who came to the city on a skiff pulled by a killer whale, accompanied by a polar bear.

Miller does a wonderful job of weaving the various character narratives into one another, in subtle and very interesting ways. My only complaint, and I hesitate to even call it such, is that the ending did feel a bit abrupt.

I wanted more. I want to spend so much more time in Qaanaaq. I’m satisfied, mostly, with the ending as far as the characters are concerned, but the world? Nah. I don’t want to leave Blackfish City just yet.

Sam J. Miller tackles a lot of themes in this book. Capitalism, deregulation, climate change, revenge, regret, what it means to be a family, and the lengths people will go to in order to save the ones they love. All of these come up and are explored within the relatively short span of 336 pages. And they are handled well.

Honestly, I loved this book. I’m going to buy a copy, and I sincerely hope that Sam J. Miller will find his way back to Qaanaaq eventually, so that I can too. I’m going to find his short story Calved, his first adventure in this setting, simply because I can’t get enough.

Oh! It’s also worth mentioning that Miller’s first novel The Art of Starving (which I’ve yet to read) is nominated for a Hugo Award, the first year for the Best Young Adult Book category!

So hurry up and read his stuff already!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 19

Bloggos!

I apologize for the silent weekend. I’ll get into the details of what happened, but for now let’s talk about gooooooooaaaaaaalllllllllsssssssss!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! The Cold Days book review is up now! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the Blackfish City review thanks to a god-awful migraine.cold days cover
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • YES! I absolutely killed it this week writing-wise.
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
    • Nope. Not even at all.
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
    • Yep! It was a ton of fun to write, and it got a decent amount of praise after it was posted. Always good.
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
    • Yes! Look for the review this week!
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yeppers. Madhu’s making good progress on her rewrites and i’m excited to see where this process takes her.

Weekly Word Count: 5,103

Tuesday and Wednesday were both very productive days, and Thursday I got a wonderful surprise in the mail that I will tell you all about, probably tomorrow. Sadly, Thursday evening led to a migraine that completely derailed my weekend. Friday I had to call out of work, and I spent the day sprawled in bed, half-asleep listening to Skin Game. Then we celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday, which was fun, but I didn’t get any quality writing time until Sunday evening.

That didn’t stop me from writing over 2,500 words Sunday night! The rewrites on The Steel Armada are going well. It’s a totally different animal than the first draft and I’m still having a great time. There are some new characters, more backstory, and SO MUCH MORE worldbuilding. I think I’m in love.

Sanctuary was sadly neglected in the face of all this rewriting. I’m hopeful that I can get back to it this week. I did write a 1,300 word tumblr prompt this week, for the Dragon Age fandom that was entirely too much fun. I imagine it won’t be my last time writing those characters.blackfish city

Blackfish City is done and already returned to the library. I’ll have the review up this week. I pinky promise!

Exchanging pages with Madhu is still going well. We’ve become each other’s cheerleaders and have planned another Walk ‘n’ Talk for later this week. It’s nice to get out in the nice weather and discuss our ideas and concerns for our writing.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

This week should be pretty straightforward. Read and write. That’s it. I can do that. Basically all I do with my life anyway. I’ve got the Blackfish City review to post and a personal announcement to share this week as well. If I’m disciplined I should get The Master Magician finished up this week, just in time to read the new book, The Plastic Magician.the plastic magician

Otherwise I’ll just be working on The Steel Armada and Sanctuary. And avoiding my email inbox as I eagerly await news of my short story submissions. It’s been a few weeks and I’m getting anxious. I should hear back soon, so please wish me luck!

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) by Jim Butcher

Blogland,

Sorry this book review is so late. It’s been a while since I finished the audiobook, so there are only minor spoilers below. Beware that I am a bit Dresden critical in this review

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

cold days cover

Harry’s back in Chicago for less than six hours and he almost dies at least twice. The stakes are high in this book, as they always are whenever Mab is involved. There’s a lot of tension and fallout between Harry and his friends/family over what he did in the last couple books. It’s been a long year, and everyone in Chicago has felt Dresden’s absence.

So what’s he up to? Oh, you know, the usual stuff. Preventing a horde of spiritual inmates from escaping into the world and rending it asunder. All while coping with a power grab from Maeve and dodging the Summer Lady and her Knight. Oh, and it’s Halloween, so all kinds of weirdness is afoot.

Blessedly, this book is full of characters I want to spend time with. Thomas, Murphy, Butters, Molly, Mouse, and Bob all play major roles. Which is for the best, because Harry is on a slippery slope and it won’t take much for him to be on the fast track to unlikable.

I think that’s good tension, story-wise, but as a reader it is exhausting to read book after book of Harry internalizing all this supposed temptation. Dude. Molly has been your apprentice for years. You’ve known her for more than a decade. We get it, she’s hot. But you shouldn’t still be distracted by the fact. Move on.

The sexualization of every single female character is a big part of why I’ve stepped away from this series for a moment. I get that the White Court Vampires are inhumanly gorgeous. They are succubi, they are literally supposed to preternaturally sexy and tempting. And I have zero beef with Dresden spending a paragraph or two describing and coping with the Raith sisters’ insane sex appeal.

molly stupid stance
She’s looking at something slightly to her left. So of course she angles her body toward the right…

But Molly? Dresden has known her since she “was in a training bra” (which is his super cringe-y way to say he’s known her since she was a kid, btw), she’s the daughter of his BEST FRIEND, and yet every single book we get a paragraph or more to see just how incredibly hot she is and how Harry constantly has impure thoughts about her that he has to beat back with a mental baseball bat.

There’s a word for that…. Oh. Right. Gross.

And it’s not just Molly. Murphy is starting to get this treatment too. Now, she gets a lot more respect from Dresden’s narration, mainly because Karrin would kick his ass if it was ever otherwise, but now that they’re addressing the sexual tension between them and talking through the idea of the two of them dating, suddenly Murph is reduced to physical descriptions and lips that “taste like strawberries”.

Yep. Strawberries. After a crazy midnight ride through Chicago with the Wild Hunt and an even longer day coordinating movement against bad guys and helping Dresden, Murphy’s mouth tasted like strawberries.

I call bullshit. What did she do, pop an altoid right beforehand? Does she have a secret strawberry stash in her Harley’s saddlebags for just this exact reason? Please.

molly_wildcard
The most modestly dressed Molly is ever portrayed, but it’s all skintight. Because sitting criss-cross applesauce in jeans that tight is even possible.

This is a little bit of a tirade on my part, and I apologize, but this really took me out of the story. I was walking through a parking lot, listening to the audiobook in my headphones, and I went from cheering that they kissed to screeching at how preposterous that was. It made me so mad. It was a stupid little superfluous line and it ripped me from the book completely.

But, there are some really good elements in this book. Thomas is in peak form, giving Harry the patience, care, and good sense of humor he probably doesn’t fully deserve. Murphy is realistic and a total badass when it comes to standing up to Harry when he’s wrong and holding her own once she’s made a decision.  Molly has truly come into her own, and seems to have coped well from her time as the Rag Lady. And even Butters has grown into a character with some semblance of spine.

Queen Mab
She changes her appearance at will, but pale and icy blonde tend to be the favorite interpretations.

And, surprisingly, Mab was fantastic. I have never once liked Mab, in all fourteen books. I still can’t really say that I like her, even now. But by the end of this book I saw Mab as more than a force of cold devastating power, as more than just a mad, tyrannical queen. For the very first time, I saw Mab for what else she is; a mother, a woman, a person.

And man, that was a powerful moment.

Mab
Mab concept

I’ll be frank, this was my least favorite Dresden book. It dragged. It was fifteen discs, and only the last six were actually fun or enjoyable. Everything before that felt like needless preamble. Another big problem is that Harry isn’t as likable to me as he used to be. I struggle with him. He says, thinks, and does things that make me sigh and roll my eyes.

Increasingly, my enjoyment of this series is reliant on the side characters. And that is a dangerous thing for a series. I shouldn’t like the secondary characters more than I like the main character, especially in a first person narrative. I guess I just have very little patience for Harry right now.

Which is why I’ve taken a bit of a break from the series. I keep meaning to start Side Jobs, but I can’t seem to muster the will to do so. With Brief Cases coming out in less than a month, I really need to finish Skin Game so I can read the book when it comes in at the library. So, I’ll be changing my reading page once more to reflect my decision to listen to the fifteenth book in the series, and then the first short story collection.

I’ll be back this weekend with the review for Blackfish City. I’m excited to talk about it with you all!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

P.S. It should be noted that, once again, James Marsters narration was fantastic! I absolutely love his voice and his efforts to give each character something unique in their tone or cadence. I always know who’s speaking, even before the narration explains it to me. It’s the main reason I keep coming back to this books. So thanks for that, James.

 

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 18

Blogland!

It finally feels like spring here in the Pacific Northwest, which is to say that you never know that the hell you’ll step out and into. This weekend was mostly sunshine with temperatures in the high 60s, low 70s. This morning? 55 degrees, cloudy as heck and threatening rain. Keep a jacket with you folks, and if you live somewhere sunny, keep me in your thoughts.

Now then, what was I on about today? Ah, yes. Goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish chapter 3 of Sanctuary
  • Finish ma-sulevin Tumblr prompt
  • Get halfway through Blackfish City

Aaaaaand?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Holy Moley, YES! More on that in a second.
  • Finish chapter 3 of Sanctuary
    • Nope. I got close, but am still about 500 words short of ending this chapter.
  • Finish ma-sulevin Tumblr prompt
    • Yep! Just a little fluffy drabble, 500 words or so. Which was the point.
  • Get halfway through Blackfish Cityblackfish city
    • Yes! I’m hopeful that I will finish it this week, it’s that good.

Weekly Word Count: 5,341

This week just flew by. This year is flying by! How is it May already? My blogging has been more consistent than ever, largely thanks to these weekly goals updates. At the beginning of the year I set a goal of 52 posts for the year. That meant I would post at least once a week.

With today’s post I am at 42 blog posts for the year. I’d say it’s very likely that I’ll be able to check off that goal very soon.

The rewrites on The Steel Armada are chugging right along. I wrote 4,474 words last week, which totals out to about 745 words a day. Now, it was Cinco de Mayo weekend, and there’s a local microbrew festival that weekend which we always go to. And Sundays are our tabletop board game day, so really, I only wrote 4/6 days.

It was a very productive four days. I’m hoping to keep that momentum up for the whole month, but we’ll see.

Sanctuary chapter three is well on its way. It’s lagging a little as I flounder to find a good cliffhanger ending, but it’s also the last chapter before the two main characters are reunited again, so things are about to heat up.

I had a tumblr prompt to see to this week, which was a nice little distraction from the bigger projects. Prompts are nice because I can usually write them in one sitting, they don’t require much editing, and then I share them to immediate fan responses. Basically, they’re little ego boosts.

Blackfish City is very good so far. It’s also very similar to how I want The Steel Armada to feel, so depending on how it ends I think I’ll buy it. I plan on having it done this week, so keep an eye out for that.

What Comes Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I’ve got the Cold Days book review left to write and depending on how quickly I finish Blackfish City, I could have that one up this week as well.

The Steel Armada has been going well, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. I’ve got a really exciting chapter to write this week, with danger and intrigue galore!

Sanctuary is trucking along at a steady pace. Once I get chapter 5 done I’ll start posting it again, probably with an every-other week update schedule. It’ll be nice to get this out to the people waiting for it, and to finally get closer to “done” on this series.

I’ve got one more tumblr prompt for this week, which I am excited to write. The last piece this person requested was quite angsty and sad, so I’m looking forward to writing something humorous and light for her.

the plastic magician

Madhu and I are both knee deep in rewrites, but we’ve agreed to share our pages nonetheless. I look forward to reading what she’s got so far, and I am anxious as all get out to send her mine. I usually keep early drafts cloistered away for my eyes only, but I really want to get an impression on the changes I’ve made. So, I’m taking the plunge and sharing it with her before it’s all said and done. Yikes!

This week on the blog might be a touch quiet and book review oriented. Both reviews for Cold Days and Blackfish City will be up if I keep reading so quickly. Then I’ve got The Master Magician cued up just in time for the newest Charlie N. Holmberg book, The Plastic Magician which comes out next week! Only after both of those can I finally dig back into Quietus and then once that’s done I can read my first ARC (Advanced Reader Copy)!

Good grief. I’ve got a lot of books to get through.

Until later, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – April 2018

Bloggos! Where has this year gone? It can’t be May already, can it? That means we’re almost halfway through the year! Nope, nope, nope. This is not okay.

What were April’s Goals?

  • Edit 4 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Continue submitting short stories
  • Build a backlog of 5 chapters of Sanctuary
  • Keep reading

How’d it go?

  • Edit 4 chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Close! 3.5/4. This project has been a lot harder than I anticipated. I have thoughts I’ll share later this week in my editing-centric post.
  • Continue submitting short stories
    • Done! Both Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are out for submission right now.
  • Build a backlog of 5 chapters of Sanctuary
    • Nope. Didn’t even finish chapter 3. This is both good and bad. Bad, because I need to get this project done and off my plate. Good, because that means my focus was on original content and not fanfic.
  • Keep reading
    • Sure did! I finished twelve titles in April! Ten graphic novels, one audiobook, and three novellas.

Total April Word Count: 10,431

April was mostly me blinking bleary eyes at my ancient MacBook screen and cursing my life. The revisions on The Steel Armada have been… trying at best. I proved my stubbornness to myself, my determination to see a project through. I’m proud of the work I’ve accomplished so far, but it’s time to admit that this book needs more than I’m giving it. More on that later this week.

I’ve submitted two short stories this month, and both are still pending. That’s a good thing. The longer the stories are out, the better my chances. I’ve received two rejections so far this year, one form and one personal. I used the feedback in the personal rejection to tweak The Cost of Rain and look forward to seeing how it does this round. Submitting is nerve-wracking work, but it gets less so the more I do it.

Sanctuary has become something I work on when I have time to spare, which is exactly how it should be. I add a few lines at a time, a paragraph here and there. It’s a fun little escape and a good place to get the writing day started. I still like it, and definitely am committed to finishing it, but it is not my top priority.

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

I read a lot of graphic novels in April, as well as the Binti novellas. Lots of quick and small stories to get me through the month and pad my reading challenge.

Honorable Mentions?

I posted thirteen blog posts this month. Three book reviews, five goals summaries,  one monthly recap, and four miscellaneous posts. The blog is seeing the most traffic ever, with April getting the most views in a single month in the seven year history of To Write These Words Down…

That feels good. So thank you all for visiting this site and reading along on my adventures in writing!

April was also a month of adventure! Madhu and I attended the OWC Writers Conference, which you can read all about. I learned that she’s a “Walk ‘n’ Talker”, as we went for a walk on the beach and shouted over the wind to discuss our stories. I took risks and networked. I met people, which is like one of my biggest social anxieties so, yeah. I did that.

the audient void no 5The Audient Void published its fifth issue, and opened submissions for issue #6. You can purchase a copy or submit now!

I’m proud of April’s word count. It’s not as stellar as March or even January, but it’s the reflection of solid, difficult work. That makes me happy.

So, Now What?

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading

Madhu and I took a walk in a local park this morning to discuss our plans and goals for our manuscripts in the coming months. It was nice. I don’t get outdoors often enough, which was made apparent by my shortness of breath as we climbed a modest hill. And now that the weather is clearing up (maybe), I hope to take more walks.

So, what I’ve been hedging around and still won’t get into too much detail about here, is that I am going to do a complete rewrite of The Steel Armada. It’s what’s best for the book, no matter how much it scares me. The fact that I’m so daunted by the prospect of rewriting is another good reason to do it.

Basically, this was the very first manuscript I ever finished which is amazing in an of itself. But, the story can be so much better, can become so much more, if I take the bones of what I have and build something entirely new out of them.

At least, that’s what I think. That’s what I feel. What I know is that I cannot continue to work on the book the way it is now. There is no light at the end of its tunnel. And I do not want to put all this effort into something that is ultimately a dead end.

So, I’m starting fresh. A lot of material can stay, all of the characters I’ve built will remain, but the world and how they live in it has to change. And for the first time, I’m really excited about those changes.

Again, I’ll really hash out these details in my Editing Check-in post later this week, but I couldn’t really talk about May goals without sharing this decision.

Writing Sanctuary is going to be my treat to myself. If I’m meeting my The Steel Armada goals, then I can work on fanfic where there is much less pressure. Plus, it’s just fun to write. It’s self-indulgent and judgment free. I need a project that doesn’t feel like life and death.

Short story submissions are on track and I will be sure to update the blog as soon as I hear anything. I’ve got a good list of potential markets to submit to after this round, and I plan to write a post about this process later in the month. I also have some new short stories I’m slowly drafting, though I have no plans to work on them at all this month. I want to get Sanctuary and The Steel Armada done before I really focus on any new content.

Reading is still a priority, but I have a nice cushion in my reading challenge, so I’m going to revert back to a more leisurely reading pace and focus more on writing in May than I have this year so far. Expect book reviews to slow down this month.blackfish city

Right now I’m reading Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller, which is super interesting so far. It’s definitely the right book to read while I dig into this rewrite as it has a very similar vibe as what I’d like to have in The Steel Armada.

So, that’s May. It’s daunting. There’s a lot of work to get done, starting today. I have to write 500 words of a new version of a book I wrote in 2013. It sounds scary, but 500 words?

I can do that. Like, super-di-duper quick. 500 words is nothing. Which was my point in making it the goal. What’s 500 words? Pffft.

And if those 500 words go well, suddenly it’s 1000. Or 1500. It grows into something bigger than anticipated, leaving me feeling accomplished and energized to get more work done.

So let’s get to it already!

 

BZ