The Recap – May/June 2020

All right. I’m not gonna waste time pretending I know what the hell happened in June. There were a couple of frantic work weeks and even more emotions. I numbed out with some serious video game bingeing and reading. So, instead of breaking down the goals from May, lemme just sum up where various projects are at.

  • Tavi is on pause. I have a lot to think about with this book. My mindset in regards to the entire project has done a 180 and I don’t really know what to do about that. So, until I’m feeling a little less shreddy toward it, I’m going to work on other things.
  • The Shadowboxer is back on the front burner. It’s an extremely ambitious story and it’s demanding a lot from me. I’ve maintained for a while now that every story requires something different from me, some more than others. This one wants me to basically re-invent the wheel when it comes to my “process” and I’m struggling with that. I’m going slow, climbing this story mountain one rock at a time and doing A LOT of outlining. The joys of non-linear narratives!
  • The Bahn Hexe has reappeared in my imagination, so maybe that will come next. I dunno and it’s silly to even think of “next” when I’m still hip deep in the rough draft of something else.
  • I also have a new novel idea (I may have mentioned that) and I think that will be my Nanowrimo project this year. It’s percolating.
  • Three short stories are currently out on submission. Fingers-crossed, as usual.
  • The Cost of Rain is OUT NOW at Corvid Queen! It’s a Speculative Western(ish) that has some serious Folklore vibes. I hope you like it!
  • I’m reading #aStoryaDay in July and tweeting about them as a little challenge to myself. If you have any recommendations, please share them in the comments or @me on twitter.

The fact that I’m here, talking about projects and thinking about goals for July is a win in my book. This is the most work I’ve done since school “ended”, which I shouldn’t feel so bad about, considering it was only like two weeks of vacation. I seriously need to learn to chill.

But, since I obviously don’t know how to chill (yet), let’s talk about July!

July Goals

  • Write every day
  • Read a short story a day
  • Keep reading (novels)!

So, yeah. That’s where I’m at. The Shadowboxer is my main focus this month. I’d love to get the rough draft finished before August, but I don’t feel very hopeful about that. I’m grappling with it a little too much at the moment to feel confident about a completion date. It’ll get done when it’s done and not a moment sooner.

I’m reading The Stolen Throne right now, but think I’m going to put it down in favor of the mountain of new books I got from curbside pickup at the library. There’s some really good titles in that stack that I’m much more interested in reading. Besides, The Stolen Throne is a reread and it did not age well.

I’ll be back on Monday to talk a little more formally about goals and progress. Until then, Bloggos.



Goals Summary 2020 – Wk #13

Hey Blogland,

It was a busy week of Staying Home, and Staying Safe. I’m starting to get restless, and really want the sun to come out so I can at least take the dog for a walk. But, there’s a lot of writerly things happening, so let’s get to it!

Last Week

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Finish listening to Tunnel of Bones
  • Write 800+ words

How’d I do?

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
    • Yep. This round was a bit more productive as I recognized some superfluous lines and tightened things up a bit.
  • Finish listening to Tunnel of BonesTunnel of bones
    • Yep! I didn’t expect to have so many feelings about a poltergeist, but I sure did.
  • Write 800+ words
    • Oh, yes. Without even really meaning to.

Weekly Word Count: 2,314 

This was a very bookish, writerly week. I worked on some fanfic, edited my short story, read a bunch of Ashlords and finished listening to Tunnel of Bones. I released two episodes of Mrs. Harlow’s Quarantine Reads! I discovered and listened to all of the Ask the Bards podcast. It’s Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne talking all things writing and publishing, which is rad. I started Wonderbook, which I’m treating as a sort of class. I’m reading a chapter or two each week and doing the associated Writing Challenges. It’s fun, challenging, and is really kicking my brain into “Craft” gear. Which is good because, well, I did a thing.

I finally read the Tavi rough draft. You know, that Urban Fantasy novel I finished last spring? I’ve been avoiding it because revising novels has been a highly unpleasant experience so far. I was terrified that it would be even worse than I imagined and so just kept glancing at the printed manuscript on my desk like it might reach out and bite me.

But, on Friday, I decided to dive in. And, you know what? I loved it! It’s fun, and there are a lot of elements that I’m incredibly proud of. The pacing is generally good, I kept reading, not out of a sense of duty, but because I was genuinely enjoying my story. In fact, I couldn’t put it down. I read the entire thing in basically one sitting. From about 9am to 7pm, and was absolutely thrilled with it.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. There is definitely work to be done, but nothing so daunting that I’m hesitant to get started. I’m actually looking forward to spending time in this world and with these characters again. Crazy, right?

What’s Next?

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Finish reading Ashlordsashlords
  • Write 800+ words

This looks familiar on purpose. It’s worked for the last two weeks, so why mess with it? Especially when polishing and submitting Lament is my top priority right now. Finishing the rough draft of The Shadowboxer is priority number two. Once both of those are done I’ll start revising Tavi. I’m hoping to have it “done” before July. We’ll see how that goes.

And then I have a new novel idea. Which is a dangerous thing, but also a very motivating one. I can’t work on the new idea until all of the above is complete. And I really want to write the new thing, so I’d best get to work.

Speaking of work, I start working remotely this week. I still have no idea what that’s going to look like, so who knows if I’ll be able to keep this routine I’ve just established. I’m trying not to think about that too much just yet.

Be on the lookout for a couple more Quarantine Reads this week. I’ll have Ep. 5 up either this evening or tomorrow and then Ep. 6 later this week.

Until later, Bloggos!



New Year, Same Look

Hey Blogland.

It’s been a minute. As I mentioned last week, I faced some major burnout last fall and really the last half of the year was just me, derailed. Getting laid-off from a job you love sucks the big one. But, I’m feeling much more settled in the new job, and turns out, I super love it too. A nice lesson to learn, nothing is the end-all-be-all of your existence. We grow, adapt, change, and come to find fulfillment and success in a multitude of ways.

But, that lesson had a steep price, namely my discipline and work ethic when it came to my more creative endeavors. I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to attend to all my writing routines, so, in the interest of mental wellbeing, I didn’t attend to any of them. I allowed myself to take several steps back and only do what felt right or good. I think that helped me recover and get my head on straight once again.

So, three months late, let’s talk about 2019.

In 2019 I said I wanted to:

  • Finish the Tavi rough draft.
  • Finish Santa Sarita. 
  • Revise Cards.
  • Publish something!
  • Publish two blog posts a week.
  • Read 70 titles.

How’d I do?

  • Finish the Tavi rough draft.
    • YES! I finished the rough draft back in May and it was a huge, wonderful, exhausting accomplishment.
  • Finish Santa Sarita.
    • Nope. Not even a little bit. I don’t even think I wrote anything on this fic last year.
  • Revise Cards.
    • Nope. And, actually, I think I’ve finally accepted that this might be a trunk novel. Not that I think it’s bad, but it needs a lot of revision and basically an entire rewrite, and when I have time, energy and drive, I’ll come back to it. Until then, I’m taking it off the plate of possible projects.
  • Publish something!
    • Yes? I sold something, but it won’t be published until June 2020. It’s exciting and a big win for me, so I’m counting it as accomplished.
  • Publish two blog posts a week.
    • Nope. I published 90 posts, which honestly isn’t too shabby. It’s the second most I’ve ever posted on the blog since 2011, so I don’t feel as bad about this as I did earlier today.
  • Read 70 titles.
    • Nope. I reached 60 and pretty much ran out of gas. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t get anything to really grip me. I was in full on burnout mode by then and basically just gave up.

2019 Total Word Count: 122,187

Honorable Mentions

Even though there were several months in the summer and early fall where it just felt like I couldn’t get any writing done, I actually wrote a fair amount last year. Two flash pieces (under 500 words) and two longer short stories (both over 4k words), the last half of Tavi, and a ton of fanfic in November and December. In the moment it felt like nothing, but there was a lot of work happening in between all that nothing.

I went to a write-in thing hosted by Willamette Writers… I think it was in May. Anyway, that was fun and cool and I hope to go to more writerly events, once all this Covid stuff gets sorted.

I hiked a bunch last year which is always a good thing, and really found my *thing* outside of reading and writing books.

I read 15,104 pages across 60 books!Img bookstack 72


I’m trying not to feel so down about missing my reading goal last year. It’s the first year since 2015 that I haven’t reached my goal. Which felt like a big fat failure on my part. And yet… 60 titles is nothing to sneeze at. That number amazes a lot of people, even if it feels a little short to me. But, I read a lot last year and I shouldn’t feel bad just because it wasn’t as much as I’d hoped. I’m working on it.

Um… I think that’s it. You know, aside from that whole, got a new crazy job that absorbed my whole soul for awhile but turns out I super-duper love. So that’s cool too, I guess.

2019’s word was INTENT. I wanted to be purposeful in my actions and choices when it came to writing and reading. I don’t know how well it worked, but I do recall thinking of it a lot and letting it be the word that grounded me in moments of indecision. So, better than not having a word I suppose. Choosing a word for 2020 was one of the only New Year’s routines I didn’t ignore/avoid. The word for this year is…


Makes sense when you consider that I was recovering from the world’s worst case of burnout around the New Year. So, how will “Replenish” guide me in 2020? Well, I’ve decided to only do things that feel right, restorative in some way. For instance, my reading goal this year started at just 1 book. Once I read a few over that, I bumped it to 10. Now that I’m at ten, I bumped it to 20. I’m letting the year dictate the goals and learning to let go a little bit.

What does that mean for my writing? I’m not entirely sure. I think the idea is to stop feeling guilty for any perceived lack of progress. Letting my interests and energy take me where I need to go. Basically, relinquishing some of that all-important control. So far, I think it’s working.

So, if I’m not setting active, ambitious goals, what the heck will I do in 2020?

  • Revise Tavi
    • I think this is one that I absolutely have to do. I can’t let this novel sit for much longer, and honestly I don’t want to. I want to get back in this world I made and really make it shine.
  • Read!
    • That’s it. I just want to read whatever sounds interesting. I have a fat stack of fat books I’d been lusting over, but avoiding because of how long they would take me to read. This is the year I finally get to them.
  • Submit Two New Short Stories
    • I already have one that’s just about ready to go out. Maybe a few more rounds of editing to perfect it, and then it’s good. I’m working on a new short story now, but it feels pretty far from submission level. Good thing it’s only March!
  • Write Book Reviews
    • This is one thing that bummed me out about last year. I read a lot of good books at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, but I didn’t write reviews for them. And now it’s been too long for me to do them justice. I don’t want to do that anymore, so I’ll be trying to write reviews again!

I’ll be honest. I expect Tavi revisions to take up the majority of my year. All of my writing time will be on short stories or fanfic while I edit my novel. I want to get this right, because I really believe in this story and the world I’ve built. I want to get the first book right so I can jump into the second book for NaNoWriMo this year. So I need to get to work.

So, yeah. A different approach to 2020. A less regimented approach. I don’t know what the blog will look like this year. I might stick to my weekly format, I might not. I haven’t decided yet. I’ll do whatever feels good and useful without stressing me out. That’s the plan.

Talk at you soon, Bloggarts.




The Recap – October 2019

And just like that, October came and went. It was filled with pumpkins and rain and friends and all those cozy fall things. It was also a busy work month and a busy writing work month. Which probably explains why it went so quickly.

October Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
    • YES! This story took a long time.
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
    • YES! It’s out for submission right now!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • YES! Three stories are out and The Cost of Rain was accepted this month!
  • Keep reading!
    • YES! I read five titles this month, which is a huge improvement over the last couple of months!

Total Word Count: 865

Holy Crow y’all. My whole month is in the black! When did that happen? I felt like a did a whole lot of nothing this month, but the whiteboard doesn’t lie. I got shit done! I think this earns me a happy dance. happy dance gif 2

I really gotta work on this unrealistic expectations thing I have going. Even when I’m working hard and making progress, I always feel like I haven’t done anything. I need to relax y’all.

But, November is hardly the month for relaxation. Nanorwrimo, birthdays, holidays, family visiting… Yep. There’s the stress. Found it.

November Goals

  • Write 25k words
  • Read 10 titles
  • Continue short story subs

Short and sweet and oh so challenging this month, y’all. I love this time of year. I love the weather and the clothing and the general good feeling of spending time with loved ones. But man, I’m exhausted just thinking about the month ahead.

The biggest stressor is probably my family coming up from Arizona for Thanksgiving. Now, let me be absolutely clear: I AM SO F*&%ING EXCITED to have them spend the holiday with us. I’ve been looking forward to it for the better part of six months. We’ve gone down to AZ for the holidays a few times now, and I love seeing everyone, but this is different. This is my nuclear family coming up and seeing my house for the first time, eating our food, and sharing my space and life during my most favorite time of year.

I don’t know. It feels so much more special this way. I am so happy and excited to see them.

But, all of that being said. Hosting any sort of event with a houseful of people is stressful to me. I like my house the way it is. Husband, dog, and me. It’s quiet and relaxing. An actual sanctuary against the outside world. Inviting others inside is… stressful. That’s all there is to it.
nano 2019

Add to this stress not just normal Nanowrimo stress, but HOSTING Nanowrimo stress and, well, yikes. Again, exciting stuff, but a ton of work. And somewhere in all of this I need to read and write. A lot.

Which means I need to wrap this up and get to work! I’ll be back next week with the Goals Summary and October’s Reading Round Up.

‘Til then, Bloggarts!



The Recap – June 2019

What a rollercoaster month June was. Full of writing, editing, hiking, sudden and utterly unexpected unemployment, reading, and binge-watching uplifting television to turn off my brain.

There’s nothing that Aziraphale and Crowley can’t fix! Well, besides Armageddon, that is.

June Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Sorta. It’s close. I thought it was done, sent it a couple places, but now think it still needs some tweaks. So, I don’t know. It came a super long way and I’m proud of my output on this project during the month, but the story isn’t quite there yet. Also, it’s now called A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Three stories are still out. These markets all have longer average wait times, so it’ll probably be awhile before I hear anything back from them.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Yes? I read them all in like, a week. But I read four of them, so that still counts. Right?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. Though not as much as I would have liked. I read five titles this month, counting Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, which I really read over the course of the first half of the year, but finally finished in June. I’m still two book ahead on my Goodreads Challenge, which is a pleasant surprise since I feel like I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately.

Monthly Word Count: 6,298

I should feel pretty good. My monthly goals on my whiteboard are all in black. That means they’re done. I should get a cookie or something. I also finally got that last trophy in Detroit: Become Human, so I am obviously super cool and not a nerd at all.

As for hikes, there were only two this month because of various goings on in my life as well as a trip out of town for my hiking buddy. But, we still managed to hike both Marion Lake and Cape Meares this month, which were both stunning and quite challenging. I can tell that my cardio is improving (easily done seeing as my cardio is notoriously bad) and my legs are building up muscle. I’ve also found that hiking really helps settle my mind and get me focused for the week ahead. I’m still loving these Pacific Northwest adventures. Marion Lake

We also spent a healthy amount of time clearing out our horribly overgrown backyard. It was nice to be out in the warm weather, but man I super-di-duper hate yard work. But, the hard part is all done now, and we can spend the month of July getting it perfected. We’re even considering building in a fire pit! Fancy.

Writing-wise this was a very straightforward month. I worked on A Lullaby for Mattie Barker pretty much exclusively, except for a couple of tumblr fanfic prompts. I wish I had more enthusiastic news about the writing process, but this story is a weird one. It’s hard to classify and I took some narrative risks with it that were relatively new to me. I don’t know if it’s successful, or if it even can be successful. But I like it. I’m proud of what it is so far. I just think there’s still something not quite right about it.

Pretty sure it’s the ending. I just don’t know how to fix it. Yet.Three Arch Rock

I did start working on a new short story, though I feel a little disingenuous saying so. This story is incredibly vague for me still. I know so little about the plot and the characters that really I’m just writing to get to know them all, and eventually I’ll have enough to shape it into something like a story. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Oh yeah, there was a migraine in there too. And an eye appointment (I’m getting prescription sunglasses!) and a massage. Self-care and all that.

July Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
  • Keep reading!

A little more ambitious this month, but I’m also not working right now. I have more time, even as I’m applying for jobs and catching up on housework. I ought to get as much writing work done as possible, right?

I have a couple hikes lined up for this month, three I think. But, I also have a lot of socializing this month what with a good friend’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. That’s all stuff to look forward to, though. It’s going to be a really good, really weird month.

I’ll keep saying that until it comes true.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.



So, I Wrote a Book…

I’m not really sure how to feel about it. At first, euphoria. Holy shit, I did it! I told any and everyone about my accomplishment. I glowed with the joy of having finished a major project. But now it’s been a couple weeks and the novelty of the finished thing has worn off. It still feels awesome when I stop and think about it, but I’m not thinking about it as often.

Which is a good thing, actually. I need to give the book some space to breathe and let my mind get some distance from the characters and places that lived inside my head for over six months.

Let’s talk stats:

Total Word Count: 87,903
Total Time: 27 weeks (just over 6 months)
Average Weekly Word Count: 3,255
# of False Starts: NONE! This book knew where it was going even when I didn’t. It wrote straight through, with only a couple of awkward scenes. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.

Those numbers look and feel good, but they don’t capture how it felt. Keep in mind that, until April, I was working two jobs, averaging anywhere from 45-52 hours each week. I was tired. Like, mind-numbingly tired. I wrote in the evenings, after my shifts, usually before and after dinner. There wasn’t time for much else, though I didn’t notice it at the time.

Only once I finished the book did I realize just how much it absorbed me. These last few weeks without it have been very… free. There’s time to do just about anything. Clean the entire house? Sure! I’ve got time. The house is much tidier now that there’s time to tend to it. Read all the things? Absolutely! What else would I do with my evening? Play video games? Oh, man! I missed those! (Don’t worry, I’ve made up for lost time with Assassin’s Creed.)

It also made me realize how wonderful my spouse is, because once I stopped working on the book, I understood how little he actually saw me. It was so nice to spend evenings with him again, not just inhaling dinner and vanishing to my office. We can watch movies and television together, or play games together. Or, and this is wild and crazy, maybe even go out for dinner.

What I’m getting at here is that writing this book was a huge time-suck and sacrifice for my marriage and household. There are costs to writing a book, and I didn’t even realize I was paying them until it was done.

That being said, I wouldn’t change any of it. This went by relatively quickly, the book wrote itself and I mean that. When I started I only had a character and a vague concept of the premise of this book. Everything else appeared as needed. Side characters, villains, subplots, all of them born out of necessity, not planning.

The book provided, so long as I was willing and able to write it all down.

So, what now?

Honestly, I don’t really know. I don’t feel very concrete about much of anything at the moment. I think I’m still recuperating from the marathon of writing the novel, because nothing feels particularly exciting or compelling. Nothing is calling to me, begging me to spend time on it. I know I need to take a break from Tavi, ideally the whole summer. I was only going to revise it sooner than that if I received a scholarship for a workshop in July. Since I didn’t, I’ve got time to let the manuscript dribble out of my brain. I’m tentatively planning to begin revisions in September. In a perfect world I’d have the manuscript ready to query by the New Year.

I don’t know about you, but my world is far from perfect. So, I’ll be happy if the book is “finished” by May 2020.

That means I have three months to work on other stuff. The question is, what other stuff?

  • In Great Need of Ghosts (working title)
    • This is the new short story I’m working on. I’d originally hoped to work on a couple stories before moving on to the next big project, but this one is coming together pretty slowly right now. If that changes, great! If not, no big deal. I’m more than willing to take the time it takes.
  • Exodus: Descent revision
    • It’s been about nine months since I finished rewriting my very first novel into a totally brand new novella. While I did revise it after completing the rewrite, I knew it wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. There was something needling at me that I knew was wrong, and halfway through Tavi I figured it out. And since a couple of the potential markets I wanted to send it to are open for submission through the summer, July will be the perfect month to dedicate to fixing the glaring issue and perfecting the rest.
  • The Bahn Hexe (working title)
    • Another short story idea that’s been eating at me since we came home from Munich. I don’t think it’s quite ready to be written yet, but it’s close.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got on my radar right now. And for now, it feels like enough. I’ll have more to say about upcoming projects and goals this weekend when I share my Monthly Recap post for May.

Until then, Bloggarts.



Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 16


It’s that time again! Let’s talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit chapters 10, 11, and 12 of The Steel Armada
  • Revise The Seasons per feedback
  • Finish reading Binti: The Night Masquerade
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit chapters 10, 11, and 12 of The Steel Armada
    • No. But, there was some good work done in this area. Turned out that, due to considerable rewrites, I had to do some major restructuring. Scenes moved around and caused a bunch of trouble. So chapter 9 had to get completely reworked (again) and I got a good chunk of 10 done. So… 1.5/3. I’ll take it.
  • Revise The Seasons per feedback
    • Done. I got a lovely personal rejection from PseudoPod earlier this month that had some quality suggestions for making The Seasons more effective. Per that feedback I added 100 words and discovered a new title for the piece: The Cost of Rain.
  • Finish reading Binti: The Night Masquerade
    • Yarp. I’ll have the review up sometime this week.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yep! Always do!

Weekly Word Count: 1,930

I also did a proof read and final tweak of Lifelike. I felt pretty good about how it turned out. This piece is one I’ve worked on for almost 7 years now (of and on) and it’s taken many, many forms. I believe this is the strongest it has ever been, and the strongest I can make it at this time. So, I sent it out for submission Saturday night.

Monday morning Fireside Fiction opened their submission window, so The Cost of Rain went out to them. I’m feeling quite writerly today with two short stories out for consideration. Got my Big Girl Writer Pants on. Woo!

april whiteboard

One of my goals for 2018 was to submit two separate short stories for submission. It’s not even May and I can cross this one off the list!

What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 3 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Write 500 words of Sanctuary
  • Research more short story markets
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I’ve got two book reviews to write and another announcement to share this week, so there will be no shortage of activity on the blog. I’ve been itching to get back to Santa Sarita these last couple weeks, so it’ll be quite nice to spend a little time with Reyes and Sara again as I work on chapter 3 of Sanctuary.

With two stories out for submission right now, I need to line up the next few magazines I can submit to if both are rejected this round. I’m only submitting to markets that pay the minimum professional rate ($0.06/word), but if I exhaust those options without success, I’ll start considering semi-pro markets. I will not submit to non-paying markets. I have my token publications, the feathers in my proverbial cap. I’m done with that.A Reminder of Horace Greeley's Past Record

Madhu is going to send her next round of pages to me this evening, so I have that to look forward to. She’s almost done with her rough draft which is awesome! She hasn’t been working on this project for very long at all but she’s been very diligent and hard-working, pumping out those pages.

Which leaves me with the glaring truth. I really, really need to hold myself more accountable with my editing goals. I need to get through this draft. I keep telling myself that this is the hardest one, this is the draft where all the big changes happen. Characters meld, disappear, and maybe even play bigger roles than anticipated. Worlds develop much further than I ever thought they would. Magic becomes less fantastical and more intrinsic to the story and world.

The fourth draft will iron out the wrinkles from this much more disruptive draft. And the fifth draft will make it the best book it can be.

That’s what I keep telling myself. I’m not sure if I believe it. And I’m not sure that it really matters if I do. The work has to get done, regardless. And I am stubborn enough to keep trudging through this process until I am satisfied with the end result.

So that’s the game plan for this week. Fairly relaxed, other than the editing. Hopefully that means I can get a lot of work done. Chapter 10 is an almost complete rewrite, but 11 and 12 aren’t. Maybe I can finally get through them.

I’ll be back a bunch this week with various posts, so keep an eye out!




Goals Summary – Wk 5

Hey Blogland,

It’s late, so I’m going to make this quick.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 book reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 32
  • Finish reading Shockaholic
  • Edit Lifelike and The Season
  • Edit chapter 1 of The Steel Armada


The Results

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 32
    • Done. Wrote 1,517 words of it. Posted another installment to the related short story collection.
  • Finish reading Shockaholic
    • Done. Not my favorite, but a decent enough listen for my short commute.
  • Edit Lifelike and The Season
    • Done. My friend Matt got me his feedback before he went on vacation this weekend. Per his suggestions I was able to fine tune The Season and start a rewrite of Lifelike. I’m going to give The Season a bit of space to see if distance highlights any weaknesses, but I’m confident that it’s very nearly ready to submit. Lifelike is still very much in progress. This story has dogged me for years, and it’s taken a long time for me to uncover its bones. I have them dug up now, but they need proper assembly. This might take some time, but I’m feeling good about it.
  • Edit chapter 1 of The Steel Armada
    • Done. I was really hesitant to do it, as I’ve been with this whole project. But, I sat down and really hashed out a lot of my world-building issues and helped streamline some plot points by introducing them sooner. I also added about 500 words, which brought the word count total for that chapter over the minimum goal! Overall, I’m counting it a great success.

Weekly Word Count: 2,079

I’m pretty much flying high right now. It always feels so damn good to see my goals switch from the red pen to the black one as I complete them. It’s really nice to see things marked ‘Done’. Here’s hoping this momentum continues.

What’s Next

  • Publish two additional blog posts
  • Finish Sanctified Chapter 32. Post chapter 31.
  • Finish reading Iron Gold
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada

Dresden Turn CoatThis list feels pretty small, but there’s actually a lot of work here. The blog posts aren’t so bad. I’ve got the book review of Turn Coat to do, and a bonus Craft Discussion post drafted. This should be the easiest part of the week. I’m halfway through Sanctified chapter 32 already, so wrapping that up shouldn’t be too bad. It’s building up to the final action of the story, so it takes a steady hand, but it’s well underway.

Iron Gold

Iron Gold is really good so far, I’m just reading really slowly because I never seem to have free time just to sit. Audiobooks are saving my life, since I can listen to them while I drive or do chores around the house. Unfortunately, I do not have the Iron Gold audiobook, and quite frankly, I don’t want it. I’m really enjoying developing the voices of these new characters, as well as rediscovering Darrow’s. But, the book is due back on the 10th, and because there are holds on it, I can’t renew it. I have five days to read ~500 pages.


And of course, last is the biggest hurdle of them all. Editing chapter 1 of The Steel Armada was less painful than I’d imagined. I’m really hoping that proves to be the case throughout this process. To help myself along, I’m reading The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield, and doing my best to do the exercises and implement her strategies. It’s good so far, but I’m only 61 pages in. We’ll see how it goes as I dig deeper into her book, and mine.The Last Draft

So, basically, I have a crap-ton of books to read, a novel and two short stories to edit, and somehow not nearly enough time to do it all. Or, at least, that’s how I feel. But, these past week’s of summaries tell a different story. I’m doing well, setting achievable goals and meeting them. Mostly.

And damn if it doesn’t feel good.

Until later, Blogland.


Week 7 Summary

The Purple Pen made a comeback this week! Ok, not quite. It’s not the same purple pen, but it is A purple pen I stole from Planet Fitness. It’s my reward for actually going to the gym. Purple pens and tanning.

Thing is, I’ve only got the one purple pen, and I’m pretty pale.

Anyway, this week we focused on Viewpoint and Tense. It sounds pretty dull, I know, but it really wasn’t, and it is insanely important.

Brandon is back! And so are the giant posts! So we kick off lecture talking about Revising, Especially When You Don’t Want To.

The first note reads, “Experiment to find out what my ‘voice’ really is, AKA what genre am I really?”

What Brandon means here is that there are some genres that you will just naturally fit. For instance, he started writing Sci-Fi and more experimental things, but finally discovered that Epic Fantasy was what he was REALLY good at. It doesn’t mean you can’t write the other stuff, but it’s really helpful to know what you naturally gravitate to.

I don’t think for a minute that I am a natural Epic Fantasy writer. Especially since my draft probably won’t meet the 50k word mark. But, I’m just starting out. I still need to experiment to really discover what it is I should write.

Brandon goes on to mention that he absolutely hates revision. Hates it with the caps lock on. But, he admits that it is absolutely necessary. He says that he does a few solid revisions, which seems about true.

Viewpoint & Tense Overview and Its Importance

So, Brandon tells us that there are two main viewpoints:
First Person
     Third Person Limited

There’s also two other viewpoints, but they are far more uncommon:
Third Person Omniscient 
     Second Person

And then there are three tenses:
He goes on to mention that future is super freaky and hard to write. He recommends leaving that one be.

Choosing Between Third & First Person

First Person:

  • Fewer viewpoints
  • 1 interesting voice
  •  can be unreliable
  • a sense of lack of urgency
  • cheat on info dumps

Third Person:

  • perspective jumps
  • reliable
  • cheat on voice
  • grand

Then there’s a random side note that Horror is extremely character driven. Not sure what the context was there, but it seems true enough.

Also, another note, that Viewpoints can be blended, meaning there can be first and third person in one story. I’m hard pressed to find examples of that, but it sounds fun!

How Not to Break Viewpoint

So, what we mean by “breaking viewpoint” is when you’re in a scene and it’s through a specific character’s lens, and then you randomly shift into another character’s lens in that scene. I can think of a couple of examples from ‘Vessels’ where this happens. For example:

Val picked at the worn seam of her gloves, fighting back tears. She heard Ethan heave a sigh beside her.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“It’s not for me.”

“What then?”

Val stood suddenly, leaning over the edge to look down at the deck.


“It’s for you,” she said, wiping one stray tear from her cheek. She climbed the railing, to balance on the balls of her feet in a crouch.


“That you honestly think so poorly of yourself, when all I see is good.” Her dark brown eyes met his, and the sadness in them hurt him deeper than he expected. She held his gaze for a moment, and then pushed off the railing.

“Val!” Ethan shouted, reaching toward her, but he was too late. He watched in shock as the small girl plummeted toward the deck. She flipped once gracefully, pant legs flapping, and landed two walkways down.

The scene starts through Val’s lens, but by the end it’s definitely through Ethan’s. That’s something I’ll be fixing come revision time. And really, it’s not a hard fix, so don’t fret when this happens in your drafts.

So, how do you keep yourself from doing this in the first place? Try and keep your descriptions in viewpoint, use character specific jargon. Val would use totally different words to describe something than Ethan. Keep that in mind when you’re working on a scene. And, if you need to include thoughts, you can always put them in italics.

DISCLAIMER: Some people really cannot stand the whole ‘thoughts in italics’ thing. I’ve never thought much about it. My novel writing teacher was against it, but Sanderson does it, and it works well for him. But, if you’re going to put thoughts in italics, other words that aren’t thoughts cannot be put in italics for pretty much any reason. Be consistent. And be prepared, if you go down the italics road, that people may hate you for it. My jury is out on this one.

Then there’s a weird little note: Stay in the car —> Don’t be a camera offstage.
This was an example from Sanderson’s lecture. If your character is driving a car, and the car flies off the cliff, don’t suddenly describe the car rolling as if we’re outside of it. Describe it in relation to being INSIDE the car. Head smashing against the head rest, etc. It has way more impact on the reader that way, and really maintains viewpoint.

Concreteness, Immediacy & Precision in Prose

This was a bit of review for me. Patrick, that is Patrick Michael Finn, was a stickler on this one, and for good reasons. This segment talks about making your prose efficient, engaging, and if you’re really good, beautiful.


  • Evokes a sense (sight, smell, touch, etc.,)
  • tangible


  • Active
  • Cutting out fluff


  • Fewer words
  • The right words

Then, circled just off to the left, in its own world, is the word Beauty. Brandon says that he doesn’t have much of this in his writing. I think he’s a little modest. But, it’s also not the same kind of beauty as a lot of literary fiction. Brandon says he follows Orwell in this matter, that he wants his writing to be as a window. Crisp, clear, almost as if you’re not reading at all. And he definitely accomplishes that.

Revising for Concreteness, Immediacy & Precision

The first note made me happy. Making things more concrete adds words. I need to add words, so I need more concreteness in my novel. Awesome. I can do that.

Also, you want to avoid abstractions. Abstractions are things like feelings. Vague things that we all know, but that don’t really evoke anything tangible. If you say someone is angry, that doesn’t give the reader anything to visualize or connect with, but if you show the character slamming their fist into a wall, that gives their anger life, and it give the reader a mental image and something to relate to.

Then Brandon brings up something pretty cool.

Excuse my crappy drawing...
Excuse my crappy drawing…

This is the Pyramid of Abstraction. Basically, the bottom is your foundation. You build a foundation by using concrete, immediate, and precise words. As the story progresses, if you’ve done a good job building your foundation, you can use abstractions. You use concrete words to EARN abstractions. I thought this was an interesting and concise explanation of the process. It’s really parallel to Sanderson’s Law, that the better your readers understand said magic, the more satisfying an ending solved with said magic can be.

That was some intense paraphrasing. Go back to previous posts, or google it to read the real Law.

Get rid of abstractions to make room for concrete imagery. This is true. I know it. But, I already have room. What do I do then?

Also, this is precision at work, try and find the one word that does everything. This allows every sentence to create a scene, build character, and move along the plot. And it’s really hard to do.

Then, there’s a tiny little freakout note:
Sanderson cuts 15% of his first draft… And he did for The Way of Kings! WHAT?! That is insane!

Then there’s a note about dialogue tags. Whoever said, ‘said is dead,’ was a big, fat liar. And their pants are subsequently on fire. Sanderson, and every other teacher I’ve had, says to avoid words like ‘replied’, ‘admitted’, ‘muttered’, etc. And I am really bad at this. I hate using ‘said’. It’s boring. And repetitive. But, they are right when they say that the other dialogue tags detract from the dialogue itself. If you write good dialogue, you don’t need the rest. The reader will know that the character muttered it, even if you don’t expressly tell them.

Another thing to go back and fix… a lot of them.

And lastly, as you’re editing, as yourself this:
“Do I need this sentence?”


Holy crap! Thanks for reading this far. I hope you find it to be of help. Looking back, I probably could have split this into individual posts. Sorry.

Chapter 17 is begging to be finished. I’ll leave you guys to chew over this monster of a post.



Three Days

So, Chapter 7 is still only half done.  In fact, I think I’ve added a single line over the last three days. Are you ready for it? Are you sure? It’s pretty awesome…

“Her body popped and cracked as she systematically moved her stiff joints.”

Twelve words in three days. Normally I’d be in a downward spiral of doubt and self-deprecation, but, I’ve made so much progress over the last couple weeks, that I can’t let a few days away bring me down.

Also, my ‘Beta’, Emily gave me my first round of feedback via text:

“Holy. F**king. Sh*t. Ok so I really like your story. I promise to give better and more constructive feedback, but I just wanted to say, writing: you’re doing it right.”

How can I not be glowing? That is some fantastic feedback for the stage I’m in. The story is in such a fledgling state that I don’t really want to hear what isn’t working. If I’m told that a certain section of the story doesn’t work, then my thoughts are immediately taken from the story left to write, and focuses on what needs fixing.

For once I want to take my professors’ advice and write the story in its entirety before I start revising. I imagine that they all said it for a reason.

Anyway, I’m about to go into work. Then, after work, I’m going to buy new work shoes, and then I’m going home to write… hopefully.

Did I mention that I’m ready for a nap?