The Proverbial Cover and Book Conundrum.

Some days are just slow. Not lazy, or laid back. Not even lackadaisical. Just slow.

I woke up and spent the beginning of my day reading ‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss. I bought the book secondhand on Tuesday. It’s Thursday and I’m 300 pages in.

I’ve had Rothfuss recommended to me many times, and I’ve picked it up in stores before, but always put it back. The main character’s name really put me off. I know it seems stupid, but I hate it when I don’t know how to pronounce character names.

Kvothe. I read it as Ki-vo-th. And it was cumbersome on the tongue. I put the book back on the shelf, and I ignored it every time I saw it.

But, on my visit to my favorite bookstore I found a copy and it was magnetic. The spine was well-creased, probably read multiple times before it was traded in. Those creases demanded to be touched.

I reached out, caressed the spine, and then pulled the book from its lonely spot on the shelf. I knew as I felt the weight of the book in my hands that I was going to buy it. There was magic in that book. Magic I couldn’t deny, though it didn’t keep me from trying.

Many of you are readers and writers, and you know what I’m talking about. Not every copy of a book is created equal. And though used books tend to hoard all the magic found in print, occasionally a new book is born with it.

I imagine that the criteria is different for every reader, but we all have it, and we all know when we’ve found a book that will be precious to us.

Firstly, ‘The Name of the Wind’ fits in my palm perfectly. The spine tucks into the flesh of my hand, my thumb locked into the ‘O’ in the author’s name at the top as my fingers curl comfortably around to the back cover.

That was the first moment, when I felt that jolt of satisfaction at the feel of the book. Then I flipped through the pages, their edges brushing against my thumb easily. No snags, no sharp edges. Just a smooth rush against the pad of my thumb.

And then the smell hit me. I knew then that I would not be able to put the book back on the shelf. The warm, soft smell of old books wafted up to me as the pages brushed past my thumb, hinting at a past filled with late nights and traveling in purses and cars. This was a book that had been cherished.

Finally, I opened it. I flipped its pages carefully, reading the title page, the dedication, and the acknowledgements, all while getting a feel for the pages themselves. They’re thin, but not brittle.

All these pieces came together to weave a magnetic magic, binding me to the book, just as the pages are bound to the spine. It was undeniable.

And so I tucked it under my arm and continued through the store with my friend, as she explored the shop for the first time. As we walked I mulled over all my reasons for not buying the book.

I can’t pronounce the character’s name. I don’t like “traditional” fantasy stories. I’m reading ‘The Dark Tower’. That pretentious guy at the Sanderson signing wouldn’t shut up about Rothfuss.

But, I knew, even as I tried to talk myself out of it, I would buy the book. I also knew that I’d start reading it that night. What I didn’t know was that I wouldn’t be able to put it down, or that all my preconceived notions were completely wrong.

Calling this book a ‘Traditional’ fantasy novel is so far from accurate, it’s laughable. As for the character’s name? Kvothe? He tells you how to pronounce it, and by page 300, I’ve got it down; ‘Quothe’.

To say I’m reading ‘The Dark Tower’ isn’t entirely truthful. ‘The Waste Lands’ hasn’t been cracked open in a while now. Somewhere in the story my interest faltered. And though I don’t intend to give up, I’m still struggling to find the motivation to pick it back up.

Now, as for the pretentious guy… Well, even jackasses can be right about things, they just tend to lord it over anyone who will listen.

I will say though, that everyone I’ve spoken with/overheard talk about Rothfuss praise him for his flowing and lyrical prose. And yes, for the genre, I think he’s definitely very poetic.

But, there haven’t been many lines that make me pause. Lines that force me to see the beauty in the language. Maybe I haven’t read far enough, or maybe I’m being too critical.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not criticizing the writing. He’s great, it’s crisp, flowing, and full of striking imagery. And it’s definitely not as spartan as authors I’m used to reading.

But, coming from a general fiction, and short story background, Rothfuss isn’t flowery, or even all that poetic. But, he’s not as cut and dry as Sanderson. Rothfuss’s words flow and have a life of their own, but not enough to take away from the story.

It’s kind of an ideal style. And I’m glad I’m reading it now, as I’m beginning my journey into the biggest world I’ve created.

I think that might be why my venture into ‘The Dark Tower’ slowed. A lull in the story coincided with the end of one novel and the beginning of another, and a venture into a totally new world and tone.

I wanted to read something gritty and sparse while I wrote ‘Cards’, but Jordinn’s story is totally different, and I think I needed help. I read Sanderson almost exclusively while writing ‘Vessels’, and though I don’t think my novel can even compare to something Sanderson wrote, I definitely took a lot of lessons from his prose.

In order to write Jordinn’s story, I needed to read a book that would teach me how. I think ‘The Name of the Wind’ is that book. At least for now.

Anyway, I’m supposed to hang out with a friend today, but she hasn’t responded to my texts yet. So, until she does, I’m going to be editing ‘Vessels’ and keep working on the new novel.

I wrote about 600 words on Tuesday while I waited for a friend, and though that is small progress, I want to keep the momentum going.

If you haven’t read Rothfuss, I recommend giving him a chance. So far I’ve found ‘The Name of the Wind’ highly addictive. It’s the first of three, and the third has yet to be released.

I’m already worried about the potential of having to wait.

Have a good day, Blogland!

BZ

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Threading Scenes Together

Hey Blogland,

‘Cards’ is officially done. I fleshed out a couple paragraphs, and altered the final scene a little bit, and suddenly felt satisfied. It still feels open, but that’s because there are more stories for the characters to tell.

Just not right now.

The remainder of my writing time was spent working on ‘Jordinn’s Story’. That’s how I refer to the trilogy I’m starting. Titles are dumb, by the way. When I say working on, I mean, I outlined a little, but mostly scoured through files to round up all the previous incarnations and pieces from the larger story.

These characters have been living in my brain for years now, and since I knew I wasn’t ready to actually write the series, I used them for short story assignments and a screenwriting class.

Now I’m picking up the pieces, and tomorrow I’ll start threading them together and fleshing them out, into an actual novel.

My time today was limited. I had a post-wedding errand, that turned into a nice tour of a soon to be restaurant/bar, and hanging out with a friend. Once at Starbucks I began editing chapter 6 of ‘Vessels’, and I’ll finish that before I clock on.

Also, my reading has dwindled. I’ve been reading some fan fiction, which is always entertaining, but I abandoned The Dark Tower series. Abandoned is a strong word. It’s still sitting in my box at work, waiting for me to pick up where I left off.

Today I’ll dive back in. It’s time to get back into the swing of reading and writing every day. As I fall back into the routine, you’ll see me around quite a bit more.

I look forward to it.

BZ

A Case of the (Happy) Mondays

Let’s just start with the fact that today is already awesome!

I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it here, but the lovely Ileandra, fellow blogger/author, and a follower of this blog, held a 100 word Flash Fiction contest, in honor of her birthday.

I entered on a whim, with 100 words from a scene from ‘Cards’. The scene does not exist in the novel, it’s just a blip from the world. A moment of thought.

Apparently it was a good thought.

My 100 words were chosen as the winner of the competition! Not only can I add that particular feather to my cap, but the piece is now posted over at Ileandra’s page, and I get a $10 amazon gift card as a prize!

Now, I don’t have much of a bucket list, but the few things I do have on there are writing related. One of them is to receive payment for a piece of fiction.

What do you think? Does this count?

Even if it doesn’t, it won’t diminish the awesome feeling that came with that email this morning.

So, I languished in my awesomeness, which was really just me not wanting to leave the comfort and coziness of my bed. I read some blogs, tooled around Facebook, and generally wasted time until Escape Fiction opened at 10.

Escape Fiction is an amazing bookstore that’s been hiding just down the street from my apartment. If you’ve ever been to or seen Powell’s City of Books in Portland, think that, but on a much smaller scale.

It’s still this intense maze of winding shelves and conjoined buildings, and while they carry books of every possible fiction genre, they seem to specialize in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. In fact, while most books are used, they have a section dedicated to new SFF.

I discovered this hidden trove of books only  last week, and I’ve already been twice in my quest for The Dark Tower. Today’s trip landed me books 3 and 4 of the series. And only for $8. I’d say that’s worth it.

Anyway, that’s been my day so far, and that’s why it’s been awesome.

But, I do have to admit that I didn’t get any writing accomplished after my last post. Wedding stuff was just too in my face to ignore any longer.

So, instead of working on chapter 17, as I’d planned, I emailed caterers, and booked our honeymoon! The five day stay in the Disneyland Resort Hotel is booked, though not quite paid for. That’ll take a while.

Today is really my only opportunity to write, because we get keys to the new apartment tomorrow. For the next two weeks or so, my free time is going to be spent packing, cleaning, and moving all my belongings.

I want to finish chapter 17 today, that way, once all the moving’s done, I can start fresh on chapter 18. Still so close, I just have to push through to the end.

I’m feeling pretty good about it. In fact, I’m just feeling pretty good.

Catch you later blogland!

 

BZ

The Payoff of Hard Work

My drive home is short, as far as commutes are concerned. 20 minutes across town. My work is on the north side of town, and I live out south. Last night was mild, and humid as clouds rolled in, which let me drive home with the windows down.

I don’t consider myself an outdoors-y person. Hikes are nice, but I’d rather sit under a tree and read. I’ve always dreamt of kayaking, but it also scares me a little, because I find large bodies of water discomforting. Also, in nature I have to deal with that whole bug pandemic. I’ll pass.

But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love the outdoors.

I crave the sensation of wind swirling around me, ripping at my hair. Of the sun shining down warmth that my skin will harbor for days. And of that salty fragrance coupled with seaweed that is the ocean.

It’s the details of nature that captivate me. And when I do find myself camping or doing uncharacteristic outdoors activities, I tend to turn into an extreme introvert.

Perhaps I should start by explaining that I am naturally an Introvert. Not uncommon for writers, I would imagine, since we spend a bulk of our time alone. What does that really mean? Introverts gain energy from time alone, spent thinking introspectively, whereas Extroverts gain energy from other people. The more people around, the more energetic the Extrovert becomes.

Yeah, just thinking about more than four people in a room talking to me is exhausting.

But, the quiet of nature, and the totally different perspective of animals, untouched by man, sets my brain buzzing with deep philosophical ideas and questions, and usually, with new fiction.

I’m not the most fun person to have around the camp fire.

Anyway, bringing this thing back around, I drove home with the windows down, inviting the night in to envelop me, and I did some pretty good thinking.

Yesterday I wrote about 2,800 words. I finished chapter 16, started chapter 17, and outlined the end of the book. I reached 49,500 words.

I started seriously working on ‘Cards’ in January. It’s May. I’ll give you a moment to count on your fingers, like I did.

So, that’s not quite five months.

‘Vessels’ ended at 47,704 words, and it took just over 6 months.

So, I felt pretty damn good last night when I realized that all this work is really paying off. I’ve written more words in less time. I am getting better at this novel writing thing, and at sticking to a routine.

I write about four or five days a week. I sit at the computer anywhere from 4-5 hours a day, but I probably only  seriously write 2-3 of those hours. Sometimes less. That has me writing about 8-12 hours a week. If I’m being good.

There were two weeks where I didn’t write a word. Boy was that a mistake.

This is one of those days where I really wished I were writing full time. I could get so much more done! Gah!

But, I had another thought last night that made me feel better in this regard. Brandon Sanderson wrote 13 novels before his 6th one was published. That book was Elantris, the book he’d written for his Masters Thesis. So, if he followed the schooling timeline perfectly, he was probably about my age when he wrote Elantris.

He wrote another SEVEN books before one was published.

I’m on my second book. All this work I’m putting in is for my learning. This is work to get accustomed to pumping out thousands of words a day, and not consider it work. These novels are the early ones, the ones that I’ll look back on fondly, and probably with a little embarrassment.

Maybe.

Or maybe ‘Cards’ is better than even I think. Who knows?

Anyway, what’s left?

Finishing chapter 17 is my goal today. It’s the last chapter before all hell breaks loose in the book. I have until 6pm to write, and I’ll probably finish 17 and get a good chunk of 18 done, if the past few days are any indication.

There are 20 chapters and an epilogue outlined. I’m getting so close to the end!

But, my brain isn’t quite ready to dig in just yet. I ate breakfast, but haven’t had any caffeine. Maybe I should. I’ve emailed caterers, and am scheduling a tasting with one for next week.

There’s so much other stuff competing with my writing time. I’m excited for when this wedding is done, and I can write with less distraction. Plus, I just want to be married already!

I’m still reading at a good rate, which I believe is directly connected to my writing success. If I stop reading I stop writing. And I definitely haven’t stopped reading. The Dark Tower is a fascinating series, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Anyway, I have work to do.

 

BZ

 

The Writer’s Inner Demon

My brain is sort of lilting. It sways in time with the song playing in my ears, and flashes of the scene I’m about to write make themselves known.

I opened this morning, but before my alarm blared at 3:20am, I slept hard, which was a relief. The night before last had been full of bizarre dreams, the vivid afterimages of my mind’s effort to absorb ‘The Gunslinger’.

I could talk about it now, could try to explain and really grasp at the bits and pieces it offered, but this isn’t the place. Or, at least, not the time.

So, I’m reading ‘The Drawing of the Three’, and I had to take a trip to an all new bookstore to find it. It was 100% worth it. But, though I’d love to write the raptures of Escape Fiction, it’s just not the time.

Maybe next time.

Because today my brain has one goal. Today I warm up here, and then I delve into chapter 15. I just want to type that and think it again. Chapter 15.

We’re getting close now. I think it’ll wind up at 20 chapters, plus the Epilogue. It’ll be just over 60k words. It’ll get bigger too, in the editing, but that’s a long way off to be thinking of just yet.

‘The Gunslinger’, even in its expanded version, was only 57k words. It bolsters me. Each piece I write is longer than the last, but its ok to be shorter than most. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

But, I’m in too deep to let word count slow me down now. The time for doubts has passed, momentarily. Now my only purpose is to finish it. My second novel. I cherish this one, as much, if not more, than I did ‘Vessels’ last summer.

I remember the feeling. My fingers trembled as they typed ever faster, sprinting toward the blank space in my mind. Blank, bright white. The End. And as my fingers hovered over the keyboard emotion swirled in my stomach and water glistened in the corners of my eyes.

I pressed the last key. The final period dotted at the end the final sentence of my first novel. I remember it, and can feel that rush building all over again. This novel will be done before the wedding, and my mind and my fingers are eager to get to it.

The less goal oriented part of my mind wants to slow down. To cherish the time left with these characters, but even as I think it the rest of me rebukes. There will be plenty of time with them, because you have plans for after this book. They’ll come back, when there’s another mystery to solve.

But, I don’t really know that. I’ve never written a series before. And though I believe that Whit’s story has only really begun, I’m not really sure why I feel that way. I have no over reaching plot arc. I mean, I have a vague, and very dim, idea of what could be one, but no details. No specifics.

As usual.

But, what if they don’t come back?

I have every intention of finishing the edits on ‘Vessels’ after this, since the co-editing/writing didn’t really pan out. I needed time after the first novel before I could really write again anyway, so it’ll be the perfect distraction.

And after that? I know the next project. A trilogy. The real story behind the first short story I ever wrote. I’m excited, and a little afraid. What if I’m not ready? What if it’s beyond my skill level? What if I completely butcher this story that set me on my path? What if I do these characters such little justice, and they don’t even come to life?

Such silly, yet real, concerns.

We’re writers. We know these demons. We see their faces in the mirror, and know the tenor of their voices, though we may have never actually heard them. The inner critic. That version of ourselves determined to ruin us. The one inside who knows our every flaw, and sees them so much more clearly than we ever could.

And, oh, how they love to point them out.

Most days, that version of myself is content to sleep with one, wandering eye open.  Rarely does it stir enough to speak up, at least with any real strength. I can turn up the music and tune out.

But, as the end of ‘Cards’ looms ever nearer, my demon-self is muttering in her sleep. She fidgets and grumbles, her lips murmuring mistakes just low enough that I can’t quite hear them. But I know they’re there.

And once ‘Cards’ is done, she’ll wake up. She’ll point and laugh. She’ll mock every word, if I let her at them. And she’ll relish it.

I think that’s why most writers give themselves space between creation and editing. They need to let the demon rage on something not so dear to their hearts. Something older, removed from the coveted spot nestled in our ribcage, to a less vital organ.

Now I’m grinning at the image of manuscripts claiming space in my organs. Imagine it! A 200+ page manuscript just chilling on someone’s spleen! I think it’s funny. Probably because I’m reading too much King lately.

Anyway, despite the darkness lingering in my mind, I’m ready to get some work done. I only have a couple hours to devote, before errands and a catering tasting demand my attention.

And, now that I think about it, I should probably eat something.

See you next time, Blogland.

 

BZ

Recreational Drugs and Writing

This post began as a comment to this blog post, but I soon realized there was just too much to be said from my mobile. So I got out of bed and decided to write a proper response, and give Trevor the additional 30 minutes of sleep he requested.

So, for those of you who didn’t click the link, a pox on your house! No, not really, though I may bite my thumb at you. And apparently I’m feeling very Shakespeare today. Anyway, in his post, Eli Glasman talks about his experience with and dislike of recreational drugs.

Now, for my own personal experience, I agree. Not something I’m a fan of. But, I know quite a few people who can enjoy weed with no backlash on their professional or personal life. These people smoke weed, or sometimes bake it into delicious looking morsels, probably less than three times a month. Others in my acquaintance are even less frequent than that. And they all give the same reason for why they smoke at all.

To relax.

Some get baked and play video games for hours. In fact, most of them do. It’s a relaxing way to spend a day you had no motivation on anyway. You had no plans, or pressing chores. It’s your day off to spend as you wish. Because it’s recreation. It’s fun and or relaxing.

And I think that’s where there’s a disconnect in the anti-drug logic. They say that so-and-so is addicted to recreational drugs. Hmmm… That just sets off an alarm in my head.

 Addiction: to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.

We’ve all seen it, whether on television or in real life. We’ve seen and known addicts. Something that started rather innocently has become a need in order to survive. Addicts are the extreme. The people who punch you when you ask for your left over beer from last night’s party. The people who steal from your tip jar so they can buy a McMuffin from across the street.

But, here’s the thing. Addicts don’t drink, or smoke, or do drugs because it’s fun. Sure, that’s how it probably started, but by the time the addiction is recognizable, they’re probably not having much fun anymore. They do it to feel normal. Which is a terrifying thought. But, smoking weed does not an addict make. In fact, I’m not sure I know a single person who is actually addicted to weed. Even those in my acquaintance who smoke every day, could go an entire day without smoking without withdrawal symptoms, or a meltdown. Because it’s still recreation.

Recreation: refreshment of strength and spirits after work; also :  a means of refreshment or diversion: hobby. 

Whether it’s a cigarette after a shitty shift, a beer after a long week, or a joint on Saturday night, it’s still something we do to relax and shed the responsibilities of the workday/week.

“Whenever we purchase recreational drugs, even if we know that we’ll be okay, we are still contributing to an industry that causes people’s lives to be torn apart. Even if we were to say that it doesn’t always happen, nobody can deny that it still does happen, that it’s still a risk that somebody, somebody we may even know and love, will become addicted. All I keep wondering is, what is so important about taking drugs that we’re willing to take this risk?”

An argument from the post. And yes, what he says is true. But, the same could be said of car/motorcycle sales. How many people die every day in motor vehicle collisions? About 120, in the US alone. Approximately 3,000 people die every day due to car accidents across the world. So, how dare you buy a car? A little extreme, but technically the same argument.

About 100 people die from drug overdose every day in America. So yes, drug abuse is a problem. Obviously. But one way to prevent abuse is to educate, especially as weed legalization becomes a reality across the nation. Although, you can’t really OD on weed. You just fall asleep and wake up sober.

And here’s another reason legalization is good! How many people go to their dealer just to get weed, and end up trying something else? Something ‘stronger’? Weed isn’t the gateway, dealers are. Legalize pot, regulate it, and suddenly it’s being sold in dispensaries by licensed government employees. The offer of something more, something that will keep you coming back and willing to pay more and more because you NEED it, has been removed from the scenario.

Because, once and for all, weed is not the villain. Addiction is a symptom. Something that occurs due to a need to escape one’s own reality. AKA, a way to deal with/ignore your inner demons.

Now, this is a writing blog, so let’s swing this thing back around.

Let’s think of some famous writers who were addicts…

Hemingway. The lifelong alcoholic. There’s countless proof behind this one, even his own admissions to fellow writer/drunkard F. Scott Fitzgterald.
Stephen King. Alcohol/Cocaine. And boy was he a mess. He doesn’t even remember writing most of Cujo, and it became normalcy for his wife to find him the next morning, passed out by his desk next to his own vomit. She threatened to leave, and over many hard years, he figured his shit out.
Aldous Huxley. LSD and Mescaline. This was later in his life, but the dude enjoyed him some crazy trips.
Philip K. Dick. Speed was his flavor of choice, used to enhance his productivity. He must have struggled with word count too.
William Faulkner. Alcohol. Though he did state that he wouldn’t drink and write. Always sober to write. I like that.
Edgar Allan Poe. We all know this cat was messed up. Alcohol was the big one, though I could see him enjoying absinthe along the way. I’ll admit that’s just stereotyping on my part however.
Brandon Sanderson.  Chewy fruit candies. Every writer has an addiction, even the Mormon ones! I’ve heard him talk about hot chocolate on several occasions too. Better be careful, Brandon!

Anyway, this response has sort of blossomed into its own animal, and its time to put it out of my misery. Besides, Trevor’s been asleep for more than an hour now, and I can hear his snores through both doors. It’s time to wake up the bear. Wish me luck.

 

BZ

The Wedding and the Dark Tower

Tuesday was a success. I finished chapter 13 and went to the library. Apparently the Salem Library either has no hardback copies of ‘The Gunslinger’, or they’re all checked out. Either way, I went home with this beauty.

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And I am bewitched.

It’s an odd book, to be sure. It’s this jilted, and stilted view into the world of the Dark Tower series. Nothing really makes sense yet, although I’m gathering the pieces in the hopes that it will all come together.

I have a feeling that this is literally just the foundation for the rest of the series. It’s laying groundwork for all that’s to come, but it’s not making it easy on me.

I’ve talked about learning curves here before. I used to think that ‘The Way of Kings’ had a steep learning curve. Yeah… That was gradual compared to this.

I’ve always considered Stephen King as a dialogue/language powerhouse. His books all have this blunt, hard-nosed edge, and yet they flow and can even be beautiful.

But in ‘The Gunslinger’ he’s outdone himself. The characters speak in this dialect that you can tell has it’s basis in English, but the words…. they’re hard to follow. And there are no explanations. You figure it out purely from context. And yet, the actual language of the exposition can be lofty, and I’ve had to google a word or two, which is rare for me.

The world-building is sparse, and done almost exclusively through character, but it works because the world itself is sparse.

I’m excited to see where this ends up, and how the rest of the series progresses.

Anyway, Tuesday was good. I’d planned on Wednesday following suit, but I received a text that derailed that plan.

Trevor’s mom works for a textbook company. They rent and sell textbooks to students all over the country. When those textbooks are sold back or returned, it’s amazing what people will send with them. All kinds of books that they just don’t want anymore.

And so, her boss finds the good ones, whether by content or condition, and stacks them in his office. He sells them all for a dollar a piece, and then the company matches it and donates it to a local food shelter. It’s a pretty cool thing.

Anyway, she put in her notice, and this was my last chance to raid the office, armed with my tip money. So, I left the computer in the car and headed over.

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For $7 this is what I came away with. Minus ‘The Gunslinger’.

And so I’m here before work today, trying to make up for the sacrificed time. But, wedding stuff has absorbed a lot of my time. The invitations we ordered were delivered yesterday, so I’ve been messaging the masses for their addresses, and then writing them all down once and for all.

Then I looked into a friend’s registry because she’s getting married exactly a month before us. And then emailed the photographer about our Engagement photography session next weekend. Then I emailed a potential caterer back.

My to-do list seems to be growing instead of shrinking.

Pay off and pick up wedding bands, as well as have my engagement rings cleaned this weekend. Pick up some more registry cards and then mail ALL invitations by Monday. Dress fitting this coming Wednesday. Manicure next weekend before the photo shoot. Photo shoot itself. Then I need to write and mail Thank You cards from the Bridal Shower.

Oh, and we’re moving on the 20th!

So, I’m sitting here writing this in hopes of warming up my brain to bust out Chapter 14 before 2:30. Probably not gonna happen. But, I’ll get a good chunk done.

I hope.

 

BZ