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

 

 

 

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 19

Bloggos!

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

Last Week

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

How’d I Do?

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

Weekly Word Count: 5,103

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

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

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

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

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

So, What’s Next?

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

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

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

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

The Recap – April 2018

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

What were April’s Goals?

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

How’d it go?

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

Total April Word Count: 10,431

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

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

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

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

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

Honorable Mentions?

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

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

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

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

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

So, Now What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s get to it already!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 17

Blogland,

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about goals!

 

Last Week

  • 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

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 3 chapter of The Steel Armada
    • Nope. 1.5 were done. I have more to say about this in a forthcoming post.
  • Write 500 words of Sanctuary
    • Done. Got a whoppin’ 1,476 on this chapter. Feels good.
  • Research more short story markets
    • Yep. I still haven’t heard back from either Fireside nor Flash Fiction Online, so that’s good. But, I’m ready with a whole list of magazines to submit to if/when the time comes.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Duh-doy. It’s the one thing you know I’ll do!

Weekly Word Count: 5,164

This week was a bit of a struggle, editing-wise. I was also in denial for a lot of that struggle, which really only made things more difficult. Again, I’ll get into the details in  post later on this week. That being said, I did write about 1500 words of rewrites on The Steel Armada this week, so nothing to sneeze at.

I also wrote a nice big chunk of chapter 3 of Sanctuary, about half of it, actually. So that feels super good too. I also accepted some last minute Tumblr prompts, and wrote one of them in one session. At just over 2000 words, that felt really good. It’s not related to anything, just a little Dragon Age oneshot, but it was fun to write.

I’ve done a bit of solid research on short story markets, both pro-rate and semi-pro. I’ve got a list and couple websites bookmarked to use as resources. Once I hear back from the two I’ve submitted to, I’ll probably do a “Submissions check-in” post to talk about all of this.

Now What?

  • 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 Cityblackfish city

So, that looks super straightforward. Five bullet points? And one of them is just reading? Pffffft. Easy peasy! Oh, except I’m going to write at least 3,500 words this week? What? What’s that all about? Well, Madhu and I have challenged one another to daily word count goals on our respective projects. I couldn’t bring myself to agree to her 1k/day, but I can commit to 500 words. So… I’m doing it.

Someone send help! What have I done?

I’ll be back this week with the April Recap and my Editing Check-in. Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Call for Submissions – The Audient Void

Image may contain: text

Obadiah Baird, Editor and Publisher, has this to say:

Since the fifth issue of The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy is now out we are opening submissions for issue #6. We are looking for quality works of poetry and short fiction.

Poetry should be Weird or darkly fantastical with strong imagery. We pay $.35 a line with a $5 minimum payable upon publication.

For short fiction our tastes are broad and we will consider anything with Weird, horrific or fantastical elements. We will consider any length work but will be much less likely to publish stories over 5,000 words. Our rate is $5 per thousand words payable upon publication. First time publication only, no reprints please.

To submit please send your work as a .doc, .docx or .rtf file to theaudientvoidmag@gmail.com and be sure to include a header with your name and email address. We do not accept simultaneous submissions and ask that you wait for our response before submitting elsewhere. The submission deadline is May 31st, please do not inquire about your submission before that deadline and understand that it may take some time to follow up on all submissions after the deadline has passed.

I very much look forward to reading everyone’s work!

Please keep in mind that Weird doesn’t mean purely strange or odd. Weird is a genre unto itself, so please be sure that the stories you submit fit our guidelines.

If you have questions or want to know more about The Audient Void, visit our Facebook page!

We look forward to reading your stories!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 16

Blogland,

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!

 

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