Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 39

Blogland!

It’s Monday, and man does it feel like it. Between 13 hours of travel on Saturday and working two jobs again as of today, I am exhausted, so let’s get this show on the road!

Last Week

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

How’d I Do?

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

Yeah. This vacation was insane! And exhausting. There was so much to see, and there’s still so much left that we hope to return to Bavaria in a few years, hopefully at Christmastime.

I could go on and on and on about how delicious every meal was, or how picturesque and idyllic the alps are, but I’ll let the photos do the work for once.

What’s next? 

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

I think this is a good start to the month. I do want to keep writing, but nothing taxing and without any strict goals. This will be a good month to sprint for fun with my longfic or work on that tumblr prompt. Gotta get that sprinting muscle ready for November!

As always, reading is still a priority, with science fiction short stories and urban fantasy novels being the focus this month. I’ve also been listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, which has really eaten into my audiobook time, but it’s amazeballs so I have no regrets.

I actually have two full days off this week, and have a bit more free time than I really expected to, so I’m looking forward to getting some quality work done. Right at this moment I am so tired that this list looks awful ambitious, but hopefully I can manage some sleep tonight and wake up ready to take on my goals with renewed vigor.

I’m not one hundred percent what else I’ll have to share this week, but I’m sure something will come up.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Advertisements

Editing Check-In #4

Hey Blogland. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my progress on The Steel Armada, almost a month actually. There’s been a lot of development, and I’m really excited to tell you all about it!

First and foremost: I finished the rough draft!

celebration

That’s a huge relief right there. I sent the final chapter to Madhu on August 1st, and could have sent the entire manuscript, but we both agreed that since she wasn’t ready send me hers, I should take the time to revise and edit the rough draft first.

Which was a good idea, because the ending was terrible. No, seriously. It was bad. It focused too much on a side character and didn’t wrap up the main character’s arc really at all. I knew it when I wrote it, but I was so relieved to be able to call it done that I just sent it off to her without fixing it first.

But, I’ve since spent a huge amount of time going through the manuscript and making the changes the story really needed. Namely, the ending, but there were some small lines that needed added or cut to make sure character motivations made sense to the reader.

Exodus Descent progress

So, that was $8.10 worth of printing at the library and 16+ hours of editing. I spent about 2 hours on each chapter, doing a minimum of three read throughs of each one. I’ll get into what that entailed in a minute.

I also came up with a new title for the project! Now, I haven’t really referred to it as The Steel Armada for months now, at least, not in my head. That title never fit the story I was telling, and it especially did not fit the story I have on paper now. So, I give to you, Exodus: Descent, my new novella.

Exodus Descent RD

After my laborious editing efforts last Thursday and Friday I promptly “shelved” the manuscript and did my best to put it out of my mind. I closed the Scrivener document, I didn’t look at the pages, I read for fun and played video games. Anything to keep my mind off of the project. I needed to manufacture distance without having much time to do so organically.

Normally, after completing a draft, I’ll put it aside for weeks or even months. But, I don’t have that luxury this time; I have a self-imposed deadline. I want to send the novella to Tim the Agent™ by August fifteenth. So, I had to distract myself.

I have to admit, it’s been very interesting to work with a deadline in mind. Having a firm date in mind has really increased my focus and drive for the completion of this project.

Then, today, I sat down and slowly worked my way through the manuscript again (this time on the computer) and made tedious changes to word choice, sentence structure, with an eye out for repetition or any vague lines. It was slow work that took up my entire evening, but I got the entire manuscript done. I’m calling it Draft 2.5. And that’s what I sent to Madhu tonight.

That’s the general update, but I also want to share a little about what this process has looked like over the last week. I’ve talked about my time rewriting the novella so far, including my internal struggle with the idea that the story is a novella in the first place. But what the heck did I do for 16 hours?

Well, I started by printing out the manuscript, including the cover page. Then, on the cover I wrote a legend for the meanings of the various ink colors I would use and a spot where I could count up the total tally of -ly, as, and was instances in the manuscript.

This is something I learned to do in college. Adverbs detract from your writing. Remember that Stephen King quote: The road to hell is paved with adverbs. As and was are both indicators of potentially weak or passive writing. Find them and you can hone in on where your writing is lacking and address the issue.

So, I read through the manuscript the first time just to read through it. If something is really jarring I’ll underline it so that I know to do something with it on a later read, but I don’t change anything otherwise.

On the second read through I go through and circle each and every instance of -ly, as, and was that I can. Obviously, out of 23k words, I miss some of them. And, I don’t fix all of them. That’s how you get boring, repetitive writing. But, it draws my attention to spots that I might want to change and helps me decide which sentences are a priority and which aren’t.

IMG_20180808_233725

That’s the second read through. On the third is when I finally whip out the red pen and put it to good use. And the green pen, for when I see something I really like or am proud of. Positive reenforcement is important, people! This is the stage that takes the longest time. I’m going through the entire manuscript, line by line, and making it the best I can this round. I’m cutting, rewriting, adding new material, anything it takes to iron out the wrinkles and get to the next stage of the manuscript.

And after that, I go back through and make those changes in the computer. Usually even more, smaller, tweaks happen in this stage simply because I’m seeing the words in a different setting. That’s why I do the bulk of my editing on printed pages in the first place, because getting a physical version of the manuscript changes how my brain perceives it and lets me see it in a more objective way.

work work work

And then I put it aside and do anything but think about the project. In this case, I read for fun and played Dragon Age: Inquisition for the bazillionth time. I let my mind wander away from the novella and relax.

Then, I came back to it today to make more small changes, this time on only in the computer. This is the honing phase, where I really implement elements of craft (what is this, college?) and make much more conscious decisions in my writing than I do in the initial writing process.

Once I got to the end I made sure both my Scrivener document and my .docx version were identical, and then sent it to Madhu for her feedback. Once I get it back, depending on how extensive the revisions need to be, I’ll probably print out another hard copy and start the whole process over again.

But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I’m hoping that there won’t be much new critique and that I can spend the last week just sharpening the writing before I query Tim the Agent™.

So, that’s the state of things right now. Once I consider it “done” I’ll post a Project Wrap Up and talk about the entire project from start (back in 2013) to finish. And then it’ll be goodbye to Val, at least for the time being, while I work on something new.

How exciting!

Talk at you all soon,

 

BZ

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Editing Check-In #1

Bloggos,

If you’ve hung around this site for any length of time, then you’ve probably noticed that I am in the middle of revising and rewriting my first novel. Now, I’ve never done this before. I’ve edited lots of short fiction, and other folks’ writing, but never something as time consuming and soul-shredding as my own novel.

I want to chronicle this adventure. I need to. This is a very reflective and solitary process, and I think best in writing. So, I need to write down my thoughts, ideas, and concerns. But, I also want to catalog my successes and my missteps.

The natural conclusion is to blog about it! I hope you don’t mind.

Some History

The original first draft of Vessels was completed in 2013. It was 47,000 words, too short even for the YA category, especially since it’s a fantasy novel. It was accidentally YA, but that didn’t bother me. I was willing to work with it. After letting it sit for months, I read it through and was pleasantly surprised.

It had issues; what first draft doesn’t? But, I liked it. I liked enough that I thought it had hope. That it was worth working on. I printed the manuscript out and promptly put it on a shelf to sit while I wrote my second novel.

1972524_10202550906306864_367713638_n
Such a momentous occasion, the printing of my first manuscript.

Years later I finally took Vessels down from the shelf, reread it, and began the chore of editing it the best way I knew how. Which is to say, incorrectly. I approached it as I had all my previous editing tasks: close reading, circling problem areas with weak writing, and tightening it up. Line editing. Not content.

I did my best, noted where content wasn’t working, but didn’t really know how to address it. I did my edits, gave it a new name (The Steel Armada) and sent off Draft 2 to willing Beta readers.

I really must thank them for their encouragement and patience as they waded through that mess of a manuscript.

They all had similar feedback, which was good. “Val’s motivations are unclear”, “the world isn’t real enough”, “I like the characters”, “dialogue is good”, etc. Fantastic feedback, detailed and concrete. My Betas were saints.

I accepted their criticism, acknowledged it as truth, and promptly put the project away again. This time to start school and slowly work on a third novel (still “in progress”, by the way).

And then last year I decided that I really wanted to work on my second novel’s revisions. But I refused to do that without finishing  The Steel Armada first. I thought it deserved at least that much, and that I could use the practice before turning my attention to a project I thought had more potential.

I also met Madhu last year, and we began our weekly exchange of pages for critique. Each week I diligently sent her my pages, read hers, and then filed away her feedback on mine for later consideration.  I avoided the project, pretty much for the whole year. It daunted me, intimidated me completely, and with the year I had I simply  didn’t have the energy to overcome that.

2018 – The Year of “Focus”

All of that changed at the beginning of this year. You might have noticed that I’m really big on goals. I like setting them, I like talking about them, and I really like reaching them. So, I had some tough conversations with myself and made the call. 2018 would be the year I finish The Steel Armada.

So, I reread the manuscript again. I still liked it, though I found even more issues that would need my attention. I slogged through chapters, taking Madhu’s feedback into consideration, and had some knock down, drag out fights with the writer I was five years ago.

Turns out I really hate revising. Like, really hate it. I have to reward myself for each chapter completed, give myself some sort of incentive to sit down and torture myself with a manuscript I was so far away from that I didn’t really know how to begin fixing it.

I was resigned to working on it, determined to do endless battle with my former self via the time capsule of my manuscript.

IMG_20180413_160618.jpg
Hard not to be inspired by that view.

And then I went to the OWC Writers Conference and had fresh life breathed into Val’s story. I came back more excited about the project than I had been since I wrote the first draft. I sat down to the task with new insight, new ideas, and so much enthusiasm.

And as I hacked my way through paragraphs I realized that what really held the story back was how small scale my original setting was. It was too small. No one could flourish there, my ideas were good beginnings but hadn’t grown into what they really could be. And the best way to fix that was to completely re-imagine the world.

Which means completely rewriting the book.

I was in denial. For about a day. I told myself that was ridiculous, just do the revisions and get on with my life. But I knew, that damn quiet and persistent voice in my head knew, that if I put in the work and made The Steel Armada the best book it could be then it wouldn’t have to be relinquished to the role of “learning experience”.

If I sit my ass in the chair and sweat over the keyboard for the rest of the year, The Steel Armada will be a novel I’m proud of. A novel I can stand behind. A novel worth publishing.

So, here I am, eleven chapters into my revisions admitting to myself that a complete rewrite is honestly the best course of action. And maybe I’ll find the right title for it somewhere in there while I’m at it.

And that brings you up to date on how editing is going in 2018.

A Look at the Stats

Pre-Rewrite:

  • Added 8,590 words to Draft 3 since 1/1/18
  • Cut one character and expanded another
  • Extensive world building including expansion of religion and socioeconomic systems
  • Improved character development, fleshed out backstories and motivations

Since Rewrite:

  • Added 3,861 words since 5/1/18
  • Extensive world building, including economy, religion, technology; more to come
  • Added another character, impact remains to be seen
  • Main character voice is a bajillion times stronger, all characters feel stronger, more fleshed out and distinct than previous incarnations

Of course, the downfall of a complete rewrite is that I have no idea what will cross over from the previous draft and what will crop up in the new one. There are already some serious question marks plot-wise that will need some deep thinking to resolve, but that’s true of all new drafts for me.

photo-7
The Facebook image that started it all.

I’m a Pantster, that wild breed of writer that has no idea where they’re going until they get there. Okay, I do some minimal outlining, and by minimal I mean, “Val goes to X place and talks to X person. They argue.”

So, now I’m basically drafting with the vague skeleton of the book that came before.  It’s utterly foreign to me, but really nice so far. I have a general idea of how the book will play out, while frolicking in a whole new setting.

And I am having a great time, as evidenced by my word count since Tuesday. Almost 4k words? That’s pretty intense. And it feels great! Now to keep this momentum going.

What are the Goals?

Hmm. As of this sitting, the only hard and fast goal is a minimum of 500 words a day. I am ahead of that schedule right now, but I’m still sitting down to work on the new draft each day. I’m going to add a bit right after I post this and see where that takes me.

I wanted to edit ten chapters before I posted my first “Check-In”, which I did. But, I’m not sure I should wait that long before my next update. Maybe each 10k words? That way I’ll check in every few weeks. The posts would be considerably shorter too, since there shouldn’t be quite so much to talk about. Let’s go with that.

I’ll have another Editing Check-In when I cross the ten thousand word mark. I don’t think I’ll be back again this week, but I will post again on Monday as usual, and I have the Cold Days review still in the works. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgot!

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

The Weirdest Weekend of My Life

Bloggos,

“Oregon Writers Colony 31st Annual Writers Conference”. It has a very serious ring to it. It sounds old and distinguished and… important.  It’s hosted in this remodeled 1900s boarding house that’s completely author-themed and overlooks Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon. The conference is always held in April, a stormy and tumultuous time on the coast.

I came prepared to do work. I brought my MacBook, a notebook, and a collection of vibrant pens for color-coded notes. I was prepared to learn from someone who wrote a large, five book fantasy series about injecting my fictional worlds and characters with life.

What I did not prepare for was Ken Scholes’ boundless energy and his enthusiasm for folk music. Particularly Simon & Garfunkel.

KEn at OWC

What I did not prepare for was late night karaoke with Tim Travaglini, the Literary Agent™, in a dive bar whose moniker we decided to interpret as “literary”.

moby-dick-s-at-newport

What I did not prepare for was making new friendships and cementing old ones.

IMG_20180415_120557

Admittedly, the conference was more like a retreat. There were about 40 people in attendance, maybe five of which were not of retirement age. None of which were male. The three men present who were not the guests of honor were the husbands attached to writers in attendance. These writers have gone to the conference for years, some even decades! They all knew each other and spent a majority of their meals and free time reminiscing about conferences past.

As a newbie, and the youngest person by about a decade, it was a bit alienating. But, there was just enough Cabernet Sauvignon to fortify me, and when that ran out, the Pinot Noir made up the difference.

IMG_20180414_204039.jpg
Dousing my fears in blood red wine, repping The A.V.

My biggest goal for the conference was to “Network”. You know. Meet people in your field, make an impression, develop contacts. This is not a natural activity for me. I tend to avoid new people and social situations that are likely to demand I interact with anyone I don’t already know. If I hadn’t known Madhu ahead of time, I honestly don’t know if I would have kept it together over the weekend.

But, I did know her, and where before we were “Writing Buddies” I now consider her my friend. It’s about an hour and a half to the Sylvia Beach Hotel from Salem, a long enough drive to be really awkward if it turned out we didn’t get along. Instead we talked about all kinds of things, from our personal lives to our writing, to our hopes for the weekend.

IMG_20180415_120415.jpg
Me and Ken being dorks.

Ken’s lectures were mad dashes through his writing process, and though some found his methods hard to follow, I found I had a lot in common with him. We both write “straight through”, from beginning to end. Then we go back and develop the plot lines and characters in our revisions. We can also, when at peak writing performance, write about 1-2k words an hour.

It was really nice to discover that my personal strategy for writing has been successful with someone else.

Beyond discussing Ken’s process and general lack of structured organization (no outlines, no storyboards, no corkboards or color-coding) we did a pretty fun idea building exercise with post-it notes. I didn’t personally find this exercise all that useful, since I have no shortage of story ideas, but useful and fun don’t have to coincide.

IMG_20180414_170216.jpg
Did I mention it was stormy on the beach?

Then there was the Pitch with the Agent™. Each of us had a ten minute window where we met with Tim to talk about basically whatever we wanted. I pitched The Steel Armada to him, he asked a bunch of questions about it, then said, “feel free to send it to me.”

I, of course, assumed he said that to everyone. He did not. He did clarify the next day that, though he’s technically closed to queries, we are all able to query him because we went to the conference.

(An email sent later in the week further expanded on how to do so, per our conversation with him in the pitch.)

I treated the pitch like an interview. I kept the conversation professional, spoke about my other projects, and really talked about The Steel Armada with the most enthusiasm I’ve felt for the project in a long time.

This was all before the karaoke, by the way.

We went to dinner, managed to sit with Tim (the Agent™), and that set the course for the evening. Lots of laughter and conversation led to more wine in the library while Ken played guitar. After some cajoling Tim agreed to get up and sing with Ken, which led him to suggest karaoke.

IMG_20180414_205115.jpg
They sang America by Simon & Garfunkel, Tim tousled his hair just for the occasion.

Now, you may not know this about me, but karaoke is literally my jam. Naturally, I had to go. A group of us was all excited at the prospect of singing the night away until everyone bailed but me and Tim.

A five minute car ride and a u-turn later, we enter Moby Dick’s to find Newport’s finest wailing (heh, get it?) away at the mic. It’s 11:45pm on a Saturday, but there were maybe 20 people in the building, and only a handful of them were there for the singing. So, Tim and I had a couple of beers, I sang a couple songs while he lamented the KJ’s lack of Pork ‘n’ Beans by Weezer and then we argued about the hotel’s staunch “no WiFi” policy the whole drive back.

IMG_20180413_154530
The view from our room, the Agatha Christie.

(Turns out, there IS WiFi and Tim was special enough to get the code. Which he then gave to me to prove his point. Joke’s on you Sylvia Beach Hotel! I know your secrets!)

We were both worse for wear the next morning at breakfast, but I think it was totally worth it. Hopefully he does too.

IMG_20180413_160618.jpg
Nothing a little caffeine, beach view, and solitude can’t fix.

The last day was wrap up with Ken, where I made a great Arrested Development joke no one heard (there’s always money in the Apple Stand!), and then a Q+A session with Tim.

He had some really great answers to questions like “what are your options when the rights revert to you?” (aka, your book is no longer in print) and “How does (he) cope with the multitude of queries he gets?” (over 1k/month, he had to close to submissions to catch up), and “does self-publishing affect an author’s chance of traditionally publishing?” (Not really. It’s definitely not a negative, though you’re unlikely to sell self-published work, he’s more interested in what the current project is).

Et cetera, et cetera.

And then it was lunch, where my people engine officially ran out of gas. We beat a hasty retreat back to the car and drove back to Salem through some of the angriest weather I’ve seen on the coast. It was kind of nice.

IMG_20180414_171457
Who knew so many shades of grey could be so beautiful?

Ultimately, the OWC 31st Annual Writers Conference wasn’t what I expected. But, I put my best foot (and voice) forward, met a bunch of people, and for the first time really felt like I was doing the right thing by writing fiction. I was in my element, I was the ultimate version of myself, and I came away feeling inspired and excited to finish these revisions and finally get this book done.

I’d say that makes the weekend a major success.

Now if I can just hide away for about a month, I might be able to get all that energy back.

 

BZ

 

 

 

The Recap – February 2018

Hello Everyone,

I can’t believe February is over already! I think I feel this way each year, because it’s difficult for me to understand how missing a couple days of the month makes such a big difference. Two or three days should not make February feel like a blip on the radar of the year.

But, it does, and it makes working toward my goals that much more frantic.

What were the goals?

  • Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Get Lifelike submission ready
  • Keep Reading

How’d I do?

  • Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Yes! I worked really hard to get two chapters edited on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means I finished 4 chapters in February and one in January. I’m feeling good about it.
  • Finish Sanctified
    • Nope. But, I’m close. Only a chapter and half left.
  • Get Lifelike submission ready
    • Yes? I’m not sure. I did another edit of it last night. I switched the POV from third to first person and added a much needed tweak to the ending, but I’m not sure if it’s ready for submission just yet. I like it, it’s headed in the right direction, but it needs fine tuning. I’m still calling this a win.
  • Keep reading
    • Yep! I read something like seven books in February, boosting my Reading Challenge and giving me plenty of fodder for book reviews.

Total February Word Count: 6,623

Any icing on the cake?

  • I published 10 blog posts in February
    • 3 weekly summaries, 5 book reviews, 1 monthly recap, and 1 craft discussion
  • Applied for a scholarship to the Oregon Writers Colony 2018 Annual Conference
    • I’m trying not to think too much about this, because I’m nervous and excited, but it’s constantly in the back of my mind. They’ll announce award recipients sometime in mid-March. Prepare yourselves for that post when it comes.Audient Void issue 4
  • The Audient Void #5
    • I’ve taken on more duties with AV, helping the graphic designer look through the proofs before he finalizes and prints. This is always exciting, because it means another issue is about to drop!
  • Sharing revisions of The Steel Armada
    • As of 2/26, Madhu and I are back to swapping pages for feedback. She’s working on something new, while I’m sending her the reworks of my novel, per her feedback from our previous swap.

March Goals

  • Edit five chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Submit The Seasons
  • Continue prepping Lifelike for submission
  • Keep reading!

Thoughts

I’ve got a lot of them. They’re bouncing around my brain and keeping my anxiety up. Mainly, I’m anxious about submitting The Seasons. I haven’t submitted a piece of short fiction for publication since… 2014? And I’ve never submitted a piece of genre fiction.

Caladria logo
RIP, Caladria

Okay, yes, there was that stint with Caladria where I wrote a handful of Fantasy short stories and they were published. But that was more like a volunteer effort. They asked for writers to pump out content, and though I got some great experience writing on a deadline and feedback from editors, those stories are no longer available for purchase. They just sit in my “Caladria” file folder, collecting virtual dust.

So, this feels much more real and scary. I like The Seasons a lot. I think it’s strong. I think it’s ready. But, I just don’t know if it’s pro status. And that’s the real issue. I’m only submitting to professional markets. I want paid for my work. I don’t want resume padding and feathers in my cap. I want monetary proof that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

And so, I’m terrified.

I’m also anxious because I really want to go to this writing conference in April, and I’ll find out in a couple of weeks if I’ll be able to attend or not. I know the time will fly by, but until I know for certain whether I’ll be going or not, I’m on eggshells.

Lifelike is coming along nicely. I did some quality reworking on it last night. I actually let my husband read it, which is something I almost never do. He’s not a big reader, so his feedback isn’t critical or experienced, but he’s smart and can give a good sense of what works and what doesn’t in a story. At least, from a reader’s point of view. I’ve also sent the story back to my friend Matt, who read a previous version of it, to see what he thinks of the rework. I’m going to let it stew for the next few days and come back to it next week and see what it needs.

Other than that, I’m just reading and editing. The Steel Armada is coming along well enough. It’s a big job, and there’s some major changes that take a considerable amount of time and rewriting. Characters are getting cut/absorbed into other characters, everyone is getting fleshed out more. Backstories and motivations are becoming clearer, to me and to the reader. And holy-moly there’s so much world building! I’m worried about pacing a little, but I figure that’ll get sorted in the next draft. Right now I just need to get everything out on the page and really nail down what’s happening and why. I can clean up the mess later.

The good news is that I’m editing about 2 chapters a week. If I keep the pace up, I’ll have this draft of The Steel Armada done by June. And that is some exciting shit. If that does happen, I’ll let it sit for a month or so, and really focus on writing. I’ll either return to writing From the Quorum, or write a new short story, depends on how I feel in June.Oathbringer

As for reading, I’m doing well. I’m currently two books ahead of my target, and I’ve got four more in the pipeline. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and pad that Goodreads Reading Challenge before I finally crack open Oathbringer. 1,233 pages is no joke, and it’s going to take considerable time to get through it all. I don’t want to fall behind because of it, so I’m reading smaller titles and graphic novels for the time being.

So, that’s my thoughts/feelings/concerns etc., etc.,  about March. There’s a lot going on, but so far my efforts to piecemeal everything out into Monthly and Weekly goals is working. I’m getting shit done. And that’s really all that matters.

I’m off to work on Sanctified. I’ll be back over the weekend to share my review of The Stone Sky, so make sure you stay tuned!

 

BZ