Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 15

Hello Blogland,

I can’t wait to tell you guys all about this weekend! It was not at all what expected, in a multitude of ways. But before any of that, we need to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)dresden wild card
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

 

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
    • Ugh. Did not happen. I thought there’d be time to work while at the conference, and while I managed to squeeze in some quality outlining and write up the beginnings of a query letter, there was no real editing to be had.
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
    • Yarp. And did one better – I also read Dog Men.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yarpitty-yarp. As usual.
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference
    • Oh boy, did I! I have so many stories and thoughts to share, so I’ll have a post up sometime this week chronicling it all.

Weekly Word Count: 366

While I didn’t get as much work done at the conference as I’d hoped (there simply wasn’t time), I managed to get almost everything done this week. Almost. You know, with the big important one left behind: editing. But, I’ve got a much clearer focus and game plan for The Steel Armada than I ever have before. I see where it’s weak and actually have an idea of how I can fix it, and that has me more excited than ever to get to work on it.

So, What’s Next?

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

 

Thoughts

This week’s goals are lofty, yet doable. I finished listening to Cold Days on Thursday, so I’ll have the review up soon. I’ve got the Conference to talk about, and I want to write an “Editing Check-In” post. I don’t think all of those will happen this week because I want to actually get some editing done, but I will definitely meet the posts goal for the week.

I got a personal rejection from the last market I sent The Seasons to, and their feedback was really good. I want to incorporate their thoughts and get the story ready to submit next week while another magazine’s limited submission window is open.

This last Binti novella is really intense so far, so I expect I’ll get it done no problem. And I’ve got the Side Jobs audiobook queued up as well. There’s no shortage of reading materials in my life.

Since we didn’t get as much work done this weekend as we’d planned, Madhu and I agreed to send pages on Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday which is a relief. I could use the extra time to get caught up on revisions.

The biggest thing I got out of the conference was a renewed enthusiasm for The Steel Armada. Do I really believe it could be my first sale? Not really. But, I do think that it’s worth working on, worth finishing, so that once I do make a sale, I can say, well, I also have this.

Plus, I was asked how many more drafts do I think it needs, and I really thought about it… I think it needs two more after this. I’m on the third draft now and there are content edits galore. Characters are melding, motivations are changing/being discovered, the plot is getting ironed out while the world grows and grows. This is a very creation heavy draft. I’ll need one more to make sure all of this new content still makes sense and to fix any pacing and continuity issues. Then I’ll need one last draft to really clean and tighten up everything.

That sounds scary. And so doable. Two more drafts? I can do that! If I buckle down and start treating this project with the devotion it deserves, I could do that this year! Which, if we’ll think all the way back to January, was one of my goals for the year. Finish The Steel Armada.

Man, wouldn’t that be nice?

I’ll be back throughout the week with the Conference recap and a book review!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

 

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Book Review – Binti: Home

Bloggos,

I’m back, as promised, to discuss the second novella in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Warning: Mild spoilers below

binti home

Binti: Home is exactly as it sounds; a year after the events of the first novella, Binti is desperate to get home and go on her Pilgrimage. She’s suffering from PTSD from the Meduse attack on the Third Fish and trying to cope with the otherness of being both Himba and Meduse. She thinks that, if she can go home, be with her people and breathe the desert air, things will get back to something like normal.

But, home is full of even more problems. Her family is mad at her for leaving the way she did, her friends have shunned her for being so “selfish” as to leave in the middle of the night and abandon her family, her duty, and her home. Add that she brought Okwu, and tensions are ratcheted about as high as they can go.

So instead of peace, Binti finds strife. Then she sees the Night Masquerade, a mythical being that supposedly only men can see, an omen of heroic achievements and struggle. And then the Desert People arrive to take her into the desert and learn her true heritage.

All the while tension builds between the Khoush and Okwu…

I loved Binti, but it wasn’t until I read this novella that I realized how thin it was. I wanted more. And Okorafor delivered in this installment. There’s more world-building, more character development, more intrigue as multiple plots begin to weave together to culminate in the final novella, Binti: The Night Masquerade.

This series is fantastic so far, and with installments under 200 pages, there’s really no excuse not to pick them up if you think it’d be even the least bit interesting to you. I highly recommend them!

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

I’ll be off the blog for the rest of the week while I’m at the Writers Conference this weekend. Expect to see a bit of activity next week, however, as I update goals, gush about my experiences at the coast, and review the final Binti novella.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 14

Hi Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Anniversary celebrations, good news announcements, and plenty of work to get done.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Saga
  • Read Binti: Home
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Barely. But YES! This chapter was really difficult for me, and was probably about 95% rewrites. These last few weeks have seen no editing because I wasn’t sure how to fix this one chapter, and now that it’s done I have a much clearer path for the chapters ahead!
  • Finish reading Saga
    • Yep! I didn’t expect volume 8 to end as it did, especially after the heartbreak of volume 7. I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Read Binti: Home
    • Yep! Finished it last night and will hopefully get the review done before I leave for the coast on Friday.
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
    • Yeppers! Got a good start on chapter 3 with 593 words.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Chickity-check. This is the one thing I am super diligent about completing.

Weekly Word Count: 2,971

Overall, not too shabby. I would have liked to get Chapter 9 of The Steel Armada edited earlier on in the week, but I’ll take what I can get. I experienced a really rough “block” with this rewrite. It seemed that no matter how I approached it, I couldn’t come up with a solution. I do not like that feeling. I’m planning on posting an “Editing Check-in” of sorts once I finish revising Chapter 10, so I’ll talk more about my experiences then.

Graphic novels are a lifesaver when I really want to read, but don’t have time to commit to something big. Saga is always a delight, and right now I’m making my way through the Dresden Files comics. I love Harry, so seeing all my favorite characters in illustrations is wonderful.

Progress on Sanctuary is slow and steady, which is pretty much exactly what I want. I’m getting a sense for where the story is headed, and building up that backlog of chapters like I planned. Feels good.

Next Week?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

binti homeI plan to post the Binti: Home review on Thursday or Friday morning before I leave for the coast. There’s no WiFi at the hotel so you won’t hear from me over the weekend at all. In fact, I’m planning on keeping my phone on airplane mode while I’m gone. Which just means I will have SO MUCH to talk about when I get back!

Hopefully I can use conference time/downtime to work on The Steel Armada. I’m still torn about which laptop to take. I have this dumb two laptop situation until Scrivener 3 becomes available on Windows. So while my PC has Draft 2 of TSA, all my edits are being done on my old-as-dirt MacBook because Scrivener 2 has Revision Mode. Since The Steel Armada is my main project right now, I’m thinking I’ll take the Mac. But, if I get inspired and want to work on From the Quorum or something new, I won’t have my “current” computer. Or the internet to use Google Drive.

Ugh. Can Scrivener 3 just be out already???

The Dresden Files graphic novels will fly by, and honestly I’ll probably have them done by tomorrow night. I’ll finish Madhu’s pages tomorrow night or Thursday, and then I’m just packing and prepping for the conference. Madhu and I are carpooling, so my Corolla gets a spa day in honor of our guest. I even built a playlist of Writer/Book themed songs for the drive!

agatha christie roomAnd then we’ll be at the coast, wining and dining with writer types and learning all the things! We’re sharing the Agatha Christie room, which has an amazing view, a fireplace, and a balcony! It’s going to be raining and windy the whole time, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying the beach.

I’ve got a handful of writing/book themed shirts for the weekend, I’ll bring minimal makeup since folks will be taking photos, and a notebook and a slew of pens will round it all out. Binti: The Night Masquerade will probably be my book for the weekend, though I might bring a backup in case I finish it too quickly.

Gotta be prepared!

Anyway, I’m basically bursting with all this excitement! I can’t wait to have this amazing weekend and get to tell you all about next week!

I’ll be back soon with the Binti: Home review.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Book Review – Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Hey Blogland!

As promised, I’m back to discuss the Tor novella, Binti.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Binti

I’m a little late to the Afro-Futurism party, but I feel like this novella was a really good place to start. It’s sparse, giving the reader only the details they need to understand the characters and the story, which is different from a lot of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy I’ve read. I’m used to long narratives with lush world building and drawn out histories. Okorafor’s novella doesn’t waste time painting the picture in broad strokes. Instead her novella is like pointillism, her prose is riddled with small details that build the world and characters just enough. The reader is expected to fill in the gaps.

Binti is a 16 year old Himba girl who is doing something none of her people have ever done: she’s leaving home. She’s been accepted to the prestigious Oomza Uni, a university that takes up an entire planet! But, her whole family is against the idea of her leaving their homeland. So, like any intelligent and headstrong 16 year old is wont to do, Binti leaves home in the wee hours to catch her transport off of Earth.

All goes well until a species of sentient jellyfish, known as the Meduse, attack the ship, leaving only Binti alive. If she wants to survive the long journey through space and prevent a slaughter once the ship arrives on Oomza Uni, Binti must do the impossible.

She must make peace with the Meduse.

Binti and OKwu

At only 90 pages, I was extremely impressed with Binti. On the surface, it is a story I cannot readily relate to. I am almost painfully white, I have no sense of tribal duty, my family is not rooted in one spot by any means. I have never been the minority in any setting. Also, I’ve never been any good at math, let alone the veritable genius Binti is.

By all reasoning, it should not be easy for me to identify with Binti. But I do. I understand her, even as her experience and her perceptions are so foreign to me. When she speaks of the desert near her home, I think of the Sonoran desert and I understand her immediately. She is young and uncertain, but also so incredibly gifted with the certainty of youth.

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

This story is worth the afternoon you will spend reading it. And the hours you’ll spend mulling it over afterward. I’ve already started on the sequel, Binti: Home, and will start on Binti: The Night Masquerade after that. This world and the characters are simply too good not to spend my time with.

Next week will be a short one, posts-wise, since I’ll be at the Writing Conference next weekend. But, I should be back on Monday or Tuesday with the usual Goals Summary, and hopefully on Thursday or Friday morning with the review for the next Binti novella.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 13

Hello Bloggos,

Sorry this is so late! I meant to post it last night!It’s that time once again! Let’s talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Edit Lifelike
  • Read Binti
  • Review Madhu’s pages

…And?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • Yep. Barely. Posted the weekly summary and my March Recap.
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Sure didn’t. This is not good y’all. I have got to get back to it! Ugh.
  • Edit Lifelike
    • YES! I’m feeling pretty good about this story. Finally. I think I’m going to let it sit for another week or two and then give one last once over. So close to calling it done!
  • Read Binti
    • Yep! It’s only a 90 page novella, but I’ll have a quick little review up for you guys sometime this week.Binti
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Done and done. This seems to be the one thing I won’t let myself slip on. If only I were so determined when it came to my own editing.

Weekly Word Count: 3,519

This week was actually a good one for me, even if I’m feeling particularly guilty about not editing for the third week in a row. This week was also challenging because I was prepping for my 10 year anniversary. I made my husband’s gift, which was much more time consuming than I originally anticipated. I have no regrets, but it’s set me back a couple of days off I would have spent working.

I’m currently editing chapter 9 of The Steel Armada. I cut out one character, and am having another side character step up and fill that role. It’s working really well so far, but it also means that there is a LOT of rewrites and plot reconsideration that has to happen. I know it’s the best change for the book, but man it is difficult. I hit a wall with it pretty hard a few weeks ago, and I’ve been letting it stew in the back of my mind. I think I’m close to getting the scene right.

Lifelike has seen so many changes this year! This story started out as a First Person POV from the female character’s perspective. It was edgy and sort of an urban fantasy/horror. I wanted her to be an unreliable narrator, and I simply didn’t have the chops back in 2010 when I first tried it. I let it sit, unhappy with it and really unsure how to even begin fixing it.

A couple years later I thought about expanding it into a novella, letting this main character grow. I rewrote it in Third Person and it became less urban fantasy and more… boring. I hated it. I stowed it away again until early this year, when I briefly considered writing it as a comedy from the male character’s perspective. That didn’t go well at all, but there was something good to come out of that: tell the story from the male character’s perspective.

I started out in Third Person, because that’s my default. And man, that felt better than anything else so far. But it still wasn’t right. So I worked at it, and finally decided that to get the feeling I really wanted all these years, it needed to be in First Person.

So, another round of rewrites it was. And now we’re here, so much closer to the elusive “done”.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Saga
  • Read Binti: Home
  • Work on Sanctuary (500 words?)
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Saga vol 8

I feel like there should be more. I feel like I’m forgetting something. But I don’t think so, and given my recent inability to get a single chapter edited I should probably keep this week’s goals simple and straightforward.

I’m still sitting on some awesome, wonderful news, and I’m going to email the powers that be tomorrow to see if I can FINALLY talk about it. So, keep an eye out for a book review on Binti this week, and possibly an announcement.

Until then Blogland,

 

BZ

 

The Recap – March 2018

Oh, Blogland! Where has this month gone? How is it April already? It most definitely still feels like winter here in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s getting old. You’d think with all this time indoors, I’d get some quality work done. You’d think…

What were My March Goals?

  • Edit 5 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Submit The Seasons
  • Prep Lifelike for submission
  • Keep reading

Drumroll, please…

  • Edit 5 chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Sigh. I didn’t make this goal. Barely. I did edit 4.5 chapters, but lacked the discipline to get it done this week in the face of other, more “interesting” projects. Literally everything is more interesting than editing to me at the moment. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the worst outcome. I still edited more than I really thought I would. Huzzah!
  • Finish Sanctfied
    • YES! I spent the better part of nine months, NINE MONTHS, writing that fic and to finally write the end of it and move on mentally was completely overwhelming. I got some really wonderful feedback from readers and I am looking forward to what comes next.
  • Submit The Seasons
    • Yep. Still waiting to hear back about it. I forgot how long the submission process can be. If it gets rejected, I’ll most likely find out in the next few days, if The Submission Grinder can be trusted. I’ll be sure to share the results here, regardless.
  • Prep Lifelike for submission
    • Sure did! This is the strongest this story has ever been, and I’m feeling good about it. I want to say it’s ‘done’, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’m going to let it stew a bit more and revisit it. But, it’s really close.
  • Keep reading
    • Yarp. I read seven titles in March and posted four book reviews. I’ve read 19 titles this year so far, and am three books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads reading challenge. Feels good, man.

Total March Word Count: 15,985

Honorable Mentions?

Unrelated to official March goals, I read/edited the proofs for The Audient Void #5 this month, so keep an eye out for release announcements sometime in April. I also started writing the final installment of my giant Mass Effect Andromeda fanfiction series, Santa Sarita: The Patron Saint of a Third-Rate Smuggler. This last story, titled Sanctuary, will wrap up larger plot points I left dangling in Sanctified and hopefully give us all that happy ending we’re all craving for ME:A.

My word count for the month is pretty high, mostly because of about 7k words on Sanctuary in the last two weeks and finishing Sanctified earlier this month, but also because the rewrites on The Steel Armada are so extensive. I’ve been adding about 500 words per chapter, and that’s accounting for what’s been cut.

In other news, I still have awesome, wonderful, exciting news to share! However, I’m uncertain if I’m allowed to just yet. If I don’t get word by Wednesday, I’ll contact the powers that be and see what the deal is. I am bursting at the seems about this you guys! The silence is killing me!

The submission process is a lot less stressful than I remember. I mean, I’m anxious as all hell if I let myself think about it too much, but ultimately, once the story is sent, it’s out of my hands. No point wearing myself ragged over it. Hopefully April can just be full of all kinds of good news!

So, What’s Next?

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

I don’t want to set any stricter goals than that this month. I want to get back into my reading stride, because it’s a little rocky at the moment. I started another playthrough of Andromeda, as research for my next fic. It’s a dumb excuse to play again, but I’m enjoying it, so I don’t want to guilt trip myself too much.

The writing on Sanctuary is… tumultuous. Some days it’s easy and it practically writes itself. Other days every single character seems bound and determined to fight me about every damn thing. Until I get deeper in and really get a grasp on the moving pieces, I think it’s going to be that way. So, I need to just buckle in and write when I feel like it, and see where this story takes me. Plus, I won’t start posting it until I have a healthy stack of chapters to share.

It is very likely that The Seasons will get rejected in the next few days. I need to start planning where I’m submitting it to next. I also need to appraise Lifelike later in the month, and start planning its submission journey. Exciting times, slow, but exciting!

I will edit four chapters this month. Four. One each week. That is not hard and I WILL do it.

See you all soon with a Weekly Goals Summary!

 

BZ

Book Review – Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira

Blogland,

This book took me much longer to read than I anticipated. It’s only 289 pages, and I expected a political drama set in space to move much quicker than it did. Ultimately, though the characters and stories were interesting enough, I found the book to be a bit… predictable.

Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars

Gunpowder moon

This is another instance where, perhaps, I am not the intended audience for this book. There are roughly about 15 named characters, and only two of them are female. Fine. We’re in the super hardened world of Lunar mining, it’s lonely, dangerous, and thankless work. I suppose there may be fewer women interested in the career than men.

Even in 2072.

Dechert, the commander of the Serenity-1 Helium-3 mining station, is the main character. He’s a former soldier trying to escape his war-torn past by living out the rest of his days as far from Earth as he can.  He has a small, but extremely skilled team of 5 people, only one of which is female.

Okay. Fine.

Initially, I was willing to overlook this because it seemed that Lane was a badass. She’s the security officer for the station, and takes no bullshit, even when confronted with their young communications officer’s shameless and cringey flirtations.

Side note: despite the cringe factor, Qaurles was my favorite character.

But, what really killed it for me was Dechert’s description of her. She is immediately described in terms of her femininity (even though she’s definitely not girly) in comparison with all the men on the station. Subtle curves, soft skin, et cetera, et cetera. Like, I get it. She’s a woman and no one else there is. Also, Dechert describes her as if he as some sort of romantic interest in her, and yet that is never once hinted at nor suggested. He never treats her with anything but respect, despite the tone of his internal monologue.

It’s perplexing. Meanwhile, everyone but the token Person of Color hardly gets described at all beyond basic body type.

As a woman reading Speculative Fiction, I’m pretty accustomed to a male dominated view in narratives, even from female characters. I initially overlooked this in hopes that Gunpowder Moon would wow me in some other regard.

Unfortunately, though it was an okay read, nothing really surprised nor impressed me. I liked the premise: The first murder on the moon leads to impending war between rival nations, and the mining commander has to stop the powers that be before he and his team are caught in the crossfire.

Awesome! Sign me up.

Except it was a lot of talking interrupted by jarring flashbacks that were meant to develop Dechert and kind of did? But mostly just confused me because they didn’t seem super relevant to what was happening in the current timeline.

It’s not that I disliked the flashbacks necessarily. They were well written enough, but it was just more talking. A lot of talking about who died during what part of the war and how messed up Dechert is over it, despite never showing any emotion.

Lane acted as Dechert’s sounding board, his second in command. He shared everything with her, and yet the only thing he really asked of her beyond the expectations of her job was to contact her ex-boyfriend back on Earth to get the dirt on the political situation.

So, literally, the only impact she had in the first half of the book was because of who she slept with before coming to the moon. Really?

Anyway, one of Dechert’s miners is killed, shit gets crazy and out of control quickly. And basically, he fails. The only reason anyone gets out alive?

You guessed it: Lane.

She rallies the mining station and pulls some crazy MacGyver thinking to save them all. And it all happens OFF SCREEN!

macgyver
Basically Lane in this book.

What? How? Why?

I mean, Dechert did use prototypical jump jets to launch a dude out into space, which was pretty cool, and the tension of those last ten pages or so before he finds out if anyone lives is intense. Hands down they were the best parts of the book.

Unfortunately there’s another ten-fifteen pages of wrap up. Which I didn’t dislike, but it slowed everything back down to the same plodding pace of the rest of the book.

Okay. I feel bad. I make this book sound bad. I don’t think that’s the case. I just think it’s not for me. It’s a perfectly all right book. The setting was fleshed out and very interesting, I liked all the characters, especially Quarles, Lane, and Vernon. It was just a bit predictable, in both plot and narrative.

If you’ve read my reviews for very long you’ll know I hate giving out 3 stars or less. It pains me. As a writer, seeing a negative review of an author’s work is heartbreaking. But, I also have to be honest. David Pedreira is a good writer. His prose is crisp, clear, and unaffected. I like that. He communicated the hard science and military lingo in a way I could understand, which I greatly appreciated. Despite my commentary above, I did not dislike this book nor did I find it unpleasant to read.

I just had a few problems with it.

However, if you enjoy Military Science Fiction with strong male leads, this would probably be a good book for you.

I’m slowly making my way through Quietus by Tristan Palmgren. It’s a big book so it may be awhile before I finish it. Hopefully I can get it or Cold Days done sometime next week so I can post another book review.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ