Hello, it’s me.

If you can’t tell, I’ve been listening to Adele’s new CD. And it’s great. Too short, but great.

Anyway, I have some down time and wanted to write a little something that wasn’t a book review. I feel like it’s been forever since we’ve just talked.

I have a very slight cold. My head is stuffy, including nostrils and ears, and though I had a tiny bit of a sore throat two days ago, it has since disappeared. Of course I would get sick in time for my birthday. So dumb.

I’ve been reading a ton, and you’ll get the Silence book review sooner than later. I’m already 30+ pages into the last book, Finale, so be ready for that one probably early next week.

I’ve also been scouring the interwebs for new titles to add to me TBR list, as well as mapping out a rough sketch of what titles I’ll read in 2016.

So far I have:

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursala K. LeGuin
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Stronghold by Melanie Rawn
Dragon Token by Melanie Rawn
Skybowl by Melanie Rawn
The Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch (hopefully!)
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
Various short fiction by Dashiell Hammet
The Third book in the Stormlight Archive

These are all just titles that are new to me, I haven’t considered the rereads I’ll inevitably undertake during the course of 2016.

Such as:

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

With any luck I’ll also reread the Kingkiller Chronicles because Rothfuss will finally publish the third book! Please for the love of god, PLEASE!

And of course, these titles are all dependent on the idea that I complete the titles remaining on my 2015 list, which are:

Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Sixth of Dusk by Brandon Sanderson

Should I finish the above, I will finish 2015 with 55 titles read on Goodreads, and more than that when you take my bloglist into account. Overall, I’m really proud of my reading tenacity this year, and am aiming for a repeat performance next year.

Working at a Library means I pretty much think about books all day long. It’s awesome.

Anyway, this was what I wanted to talk about, mostly. I’m really excited for all the reading and writing that’s going to happen next year, and I can’t wait to tell you more as the year’s end gets closer!

As always, thanks for reading Blogland,

 

BZ

Not-So-New Year’s Resolutions

It’s been a busy new year. I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting the blog. That tends to happen when I neglect my other forms of writing. I did get some work done on the new novel, about 300 words so far. But, it’s not even noon yet, and I don’t work until 3:30, so there’s plenty of time to get more work in.

I wanted to just give an update on my life and writing, and get rid of some of the mess clogging up my brain. Namely wedding stuff.

The venue is reserved, we are officially getting married July 26th at 5pm!
The officiant, a friend of ours, is booked.
The Save the Dates are ordered, and would have been here today if the FedEx guy had waited five minutes for me to get to the door at 8:20 this morning.
The rings are set aside, payments are being made.
The dress is paid for.
My vows are on a tentative fourth draft.

And despite all of this being done, there is so much left to do.

We still have to register.
I’ve scheduled a Floral Consultation. Luckily one of my coworkers is also a Florist.
We’ve narrowed down potential caterers, but still need to schedule consultations, and get a solid budget for food.
And we need to do the same for the Cake.
I need to officially book my photographer, one of my regulars at work.
Invitations need to be bought.

Add in all the little details like table linens and decor, and I’m officially swamped. But, we are attending a Bridal Expo this weekend, and hopefully registering on Sunday. Things are getting done, slowly but surely.

Other, non-wedding things have been taking up a bit of my time as well. Like our phones. We were on a family plan with my mother, which cost us next to nothing. Not really fair to my mom, but we offered to pay her more and she always turned us down. Well, she decided to switch carriers, and we didn’t want to, so now we’re on our own line, which costs a lot more than what we were paying. But I got a sweet new phone out of the deal, so it’s not that bad.

I’ve accomplished some of the “new me” things I talked about back in November.

  • I got my cartilage pierced, which hurt like hell. But, I love it, and can’t wait for the day when it’s not tender anymore.
  • I stopped biting my nails, mostly. I’ve relapsed a couple times, but generally I’ve stopped and my fingers look much healthier for it.
  • I got my epic haircut, which I’ve probably already talked about. It’s grown out some, which I like on the long side, but the short side is in need of a trim. But since that’s the side with my cartilage piercing, I’m going to hold off for a few months.
  • I got another tattoo, my Doctor Who one on my left forearm and am planning another one for sometime in April.
  • I’m also planning to get my doubles done after the cartilage piercing has calmed down.
  • I’ve lost some weight, which isn’t something I’m really trying to do, but I’m generally eating better, and less. Portion awareness works wonders apparently.

So, it’s been a productive new year in nearly every aspect of my life. Except for writing. And it’s eating me up.

Nearly every day I find myself thinking about writing, but not making the time. My mind wanders to the new story far more frequently than it does ‘Vessels’, which is good. Though occasionally I’ll see something that will make me think of Val, as if she’s an old friend to reminisce about. I think that means the distance is growing, and sometime soon I’ll be able to begin editing.

But, not today. Today I’m working on ‘Cards’. Slowly. The story feels like a trickle in my brain. Something constant, but not demanding. Maybe Whit’s just a little more patient than Val.

I don’t know. With ‘Vessels’ I didn’t know where the story was going, and that kept me focused on writing to find out. But with ‘Cards’, I know where we’re going, and I feel decidedly less excited to write it. But, that’s not fair to this story, because it’s good. It deserves to be told. So, I’m going to keep working on it, even if it’s just a chapter every few weeks.

I don’t think it will be like that, though. I just think I’m not in the habit of writing, and so the writing is slow. But once I come up with a schedule and adhere to it, the words will come, no problem.

I just have to make the time. And I know that. So that’s what I aim to do.

I’m going to finish this novel, hopefully before the wedding. But definitely before Thanksgiving!

Thanks for following along on this journey blogland.

 

BZ

Surviving the Holidays

The day after Christmas… Otherwise known at Starbucks as ‘Christmas 2.0’. This is the day that people decide to return things without receipts and spend every dime on their Starbucks gift cards that they got in their stockings the day before. This is the weekend we have to get through. If we can just make it to Monday everything will slow down. Monday seems a mirage on the schedule. A fabled date promising a return to normal, when tasks that for the last month have been deemed impossible will actually get done with some regularity.

And so I’m sitting in the lobby as usual, telling myself that I’m actually accomplishing something. I mean, I re-read what I have so far, and I like it. But chapter two is still a long way from completion. So as I’m clacking away at this blog the back of mind is thinking about Whit. He’s poised in front of the mirror, wondering how he let things get that bad. And, after careful consideration, he’ll decide that he doesn’t have the energy to shave, so he’ll comb his hair back as usual and head out the door.

And then what?

I have the answers, but they’re general. He’ll go to work. But there are interactions and world building that will happen, that need to happen to help the story grow into more than a conglomeration of loosely linked scenes.

But, my head hurts, and there’s a long day a head of me. Do I really want to put in the effort? My initial answer is no. But there’s a sense of guilt lingering in the back of my mind, and I know that there’s energy for this story back there, waiting. If I could just unleash it…

I hope everyone’s Holidays went well. Mine was quite bi-polar. At work it was hectic and incredibly busy, and then the time spent with family was low-key and relaxing. Probably the best combo ever.

Anyway, I’m going to stop wasting writing time over here and try and get some writing in on chapter 2.

Happy Holidays, Blogland.

 

BZ

The Leaky Faucet Theory

All right. I’m back at Starbucks, on what could be described as a pseudo-day off. I don’t technically work, but I do have a supervisor meeting over the lunch hour.

So, I’m sitting here attempting to use my time wisely. Iced coffee is just beginning to pump through me and my ‘Cards’ playlist is swimming through my ears.

Since I’ve moved to Oregon, every piece I’ve written has an attached soundtrack. A playlist of songs that, either through the lyrics or the actual music, make me think about the writing.

The playlist for ‘Vessels’ had a lot of Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars with some Incubus sprinkled in for good measure.

This playlist is a bit different, but it’s working. Way more varied than the last playlist. The Civil Wars, Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, The Heavy, AFI, Cage the Elephant, just to name a few.

As a test I had coworkers listen to the playlist after we closed, and asked them what they thought the story was about. Generally they were confused, but came away with a sense of the wild west and outlaws.

Which was close enough. The steampunk element was lost to them, reflected in AFI and Nine Inch Nails.

Music is a funny thing. And I take it more seriously than most people I know. Though I love reading and writing, obviously, I call Music my religion. Music is what I turn to when I feel lost, when I need an outlet I can turn it up and scream along. When I’m happy there are key artists who make repeat appearances, like Snow Patrol.

And while I can play instruments, its not the creative outlet I seek. I can play trumpet, piano and guitar, but very rarely do I feel the need to play. And if I do, I don’t compose. I play someone else’s music that really spoke to me.

I’m starting to believe that creative energy is like a water faucet. The more you tap it, the less comes out of each tap.

Trevor has recently taken up drawing. He says that he tried in high school and was awful at it, so he gave up. But, he’s been planning out projects, drawing nerdy mash-ups for potential t-shirt ideas. And you know what?

He’s pretty good!

He has zero training, he’s just going on his gut, and it’s working for him. I’m urging him to take a class in the fall, and he just might, since he enjoys it so much.

And I’m reminded of how I used to draw. I loved drawing in high school. But then I danced, choreographing pieces and learning other student’s choreography.

It wasn’t until college, after I’d broken my foot and decided to stop dancing, that I started writing.

And so I return to the faucet analogy. I feel like my creative energy is limited. But, if I only tap it for one project at a time, I can never run out. If I try to write a novel and draw, neither one will get finished.

Also like a tap, you need to leave it leaking, so that it won’t freeze. That’s what reading and drawing and listening to music does for me. I can take in the creative elements from each one and feel my mind absorb them, and start applying them to whatever I’m working on.

I’m curious to see what others think of this analogy. Does this apply to your creative processes, Blogland?

 

Anyway, yesterday’s work on the novel was decent. I only wrote about 250 words of chapter 2, but I outlined the entire novel. 16 chapters and an Epilogue. A lot of plot details that I hadn’t known were discovered yesterday, and I’m really excited for them. Subplots are growing and making themselves heard.

Like learning that Mal is a little bat-shit. That he’s keeping a strong front, but he’s hurting too. He lost his twin sister, but he’s a leader, and he’s trying to keep his people unified and safe, all while helping Whit take care of himself and his daughter; Mal’s niece.

Like learning that there’s a slave trade, and that’s why Whit’s daughter is kidnapped.

Or that Mel, Whit’s deceased wife, was planning a sort of revolution for her people, and that’s why she was murdered.

Or that Cora was once owned, and escaped. That’s why she’s so incredibly secretive about her abilities.

So, you see, yesterday was actually quite productive. Even if the word count doesn’t reflect that. And I’m already more concerned with word count than I should be. I don’t know why, but this novel is outlined at just about 50k words. Now, ‘Vessels’ was almost 10k words longer than its outline suggested, and I’m guessing ‘Cards’ will follow that pattern. But that’s still only 60k.

That’s a pretty small adult novel. Because this definitely isn’t YA. ‘Vessels’ is, and can use that label to justify its size. But, why can’t I write longer works? I keep asking myself that, and I know the answer.

Brandon Sanderson said that if you read novels and want to write novels, then write novels. Practice writing novels by WRITING NOVELS.

I have only written one novel. But I’ve written and read and practiced short stories for years now. I’ve never had a problem with writing over the word limit. I am good at concise.

So, I’m practicing. And, I think it’s working. This project is bigger than the last one, so it should follow that the project after this will be longer than this one.

I’m sure hoping so.

Anyway, enough blither-blather. I’ve got a novel to write!

 

BZ

The (Triumphant?) Return!

Sorry about the gap between posts. Holidays at Starbucks can be a bit all-consuming. Here’s the skinny on the last month or so.

I celebrated my 24th birthday by getting a new tattoo, Doctor Who themed for you curious types.

I stopped biting my nails, a habit I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Let me tell you, having nails makes simple things difficult. Like typing. I feel as if I’ve had to learn how to type all over again, and I’m not doing so well. Also, now I understand why some people sound as if they’re mashing a keyboard; their nails force them to. Also, opening anything with a pull tab is damn near impossible.

I visited Arizona. And while it was a good trip, it reminded me of why we moved in the first place. After being away for over a year I’d begun to romanticize it. I longed for palm trees and sunshine, and a place where people weren’t quite so nice. But after only a day back in the AZ I was missing my small section of the world. I realized all the wonderful things I love about Salem. People native to the town will fight me tooth and nail on this one, but Salem really does have a lot to offer. Firstly, let me start by saying that there is only ONE Olive Garden here. Same with Red Lobster. No Chili’s, no TGIF’s. But, there are a ton of local spots, and more popping up every day. Small and local is alive and well in Salem.

If you like beer, there are four local breweries. Yes, they’re small. But they’re growing, and quick. And this town knows its beer. Also, Trevor and I really like our beer.

Salem is a fairly quiet town. It’s the capitol, so there are a lot of government jobs, and state police are all over town. The locals claim there’s gang activity, but when you’ve grown up in a place where a certain color t-shirt can get you in a fight, you tend not to take Salem’s gangs too seriously. Also, where I live, the crime rate is pretty low. I can’t say the same thing for where I work, but I’ve yet to have a problem in over a year.

The schools are decent. Better than AZ’s, which isn’t hard to do.

And let us not forget the proximity to EVERYTHING. Less than two hours to the coast. Less than an hour to Portland. About and hour or so to Mt. Hood. What more can you ask for? Salem is a decent home base, and going home helped me remember that.

Basically been working my ass off. Just fought a losing battle with a cold going around work, though I think I got the condensed version. Almost back in top shape after a rough three days.

I made a feeble attempt at NaNoWriMo. Wrote less than 2,000 words and my brain screamed for me to stop. ‘Vessels’ is still alive and kicking up in my head. There probably isn’t a day where I don’t think of a scene or character from the book. So, in order to let the manuscript sleep I let my brain take a couple months off. Played a lot of Pokemon and Assassin’s Creed, and reconnected with a lot of music.

And then, last week, my brain started to think about something else. The new novel, the one I wrote that intro to ages ago. There’d been a time when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever come around to it. After finishing the rough draft of ‘Vessels’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to write another novel. Over six months of my life were poured into a computer, toiled away to create a world that may never see the light of day. I worried, fussed, stressed, might have even cried at one point, for a piece of fiction that may ultimately come to nothing.

Could I really put myself through it all again?

And for those two months, I didn’t have an answer.

And I didn’t force myself to come up with one. I trusted that, if this were really my thing, if I really am a writer, I would come back to it in my own time. And then I woke up Thursday morning and knew. My brain hummed with ideas and visions. That transition I didn’t know how to handle? The answer was there, in my head. I knew it. All I had to do was go to work early, plug in the laptop, and type.

And that’s exactly what I did. And the entire chapter followed. Almost 3,000 words. And it ended so well, so much differently than I had planned. And then Saturday night, on the dark, lonely drive home at nearly 1 in the morning, I wrote the beginning of chapter 2 in my head. As soon as I got home I found a notebook and wrote it out. I couldn’t fall asleep and not write it down. What if I lost it?

And that’s where I’m at. I don’t know how many words the chapter two intro is, I still haven’t put it in the computer, but I’m excited. And a bit pent up. I’m used to closing at work, which gives me over 4+ hours a day to write, uninterrupted. But, now, I’m working Mid-Shifts. You know, the day job. Anywhere from 7a-5p. By then Trevor’s home and we’re making dinner. I never liked to write on my days off, and I don’t usually like to write at home. But after an 8 hour shift, the last thing I want to do is camp out at work when I could be at home with my man.

So now I’m faced with the struggle of coming up with a new writing schedule. The hours I maintained while writing ‘Vessels’ were so natural. When else would I write? So, when can I write now? Not during the day, I’m making lattes then. Not in the evening, I’m making dinner and trying to have a normal life. So, in the wee hours when I should be sleeping? I mean, sure, I can do that. But, it doesn’t thrill me, and I don’t think the words that come out of me at 2 in the morning are my best work. This blog not included, haha.

I have Mondays off, and Trevor works during the day, so yeah, that works. But, can I bust out a chapter a week with only ONE scheduled day to write? I highly doubt it. There will be weeks where I can, of course. When the fire is lit and I’m really cooking my way through scenes. But not every week can be that way, in fact, most of them won’t be.

So, maybe I’ll just start carrying a notebook with me again. Every day, when I have spare time, like before my shift, or on my lunch, I could write. And then on Mondays put it in the computer and then work on what’s next. It’s doable. Not ideal, but it could get the job done, if slowly.

I’ll have to play around with it, and really start listening to myself. I know there have been days when my inner writer has piped up and suggested softly that we should put some work in. But when there’s dinner cooking, or video games to be played, she’s easy to dissuade. With my sudden crimp on time, I’m going to have to pay attention to her. She knows when it’s time, and if I ignore her, we’ll never get anything done.

Now then, I’m starting to sound a bit crazy so it must be time for bed. At least it feels that way. I’m sorry this was so long in coming, but my brain needed some space for a while. But, I’m back. I’m working on something new, and as the Holidays wind down there will be more and more time for writing.

As ever, thanks Blogland. I’ll see you next time.

BZ

No! Sleep! Till…

Here I am, sitting in my Starbucks bright and early on this dreary first day of fall. Clouds and rain and wind all come together to make my right hip ache with a fierce thrum. But, it’s nothing a little iced coffee and writing can’t fix. Or least help me ignore.

So, I’m sitting at my usual table with a mound of notebooks and binders on my right, lying in wait. Today is the day I start something new. Ish.

Yes, you read that right. Yesterday, I finished my first novel! I was typing along, trying to reach a point that wrapped things up effectively, and suddenly realized I was mid-sentence. I kept typing until the last period fell into place.

Then I immediately had to quell the urge to puke. Nausea rolled through me, but faded quickly, leaving behind moist eyes and a tingling sensation running along my entire body. It was almost like I’d had a beer too many, at least for a moment.

I guess you could say I was pretty emotionally invested in my novel.

But, once all of these bizarre physical reactions faded I was left with an amazing sense of accomplishment. I did it! Six months (ish) later, I finished the rough draft of a NOVEL! My innards are doing happy dances as we speak.

So, having accomplished what I set out to do, you’d think I’d take a break. Sleep in. Play Mass Effect. Read a book.

Nope.

Gotta keep plugging on. Luckily my next project is neither so long, nor quite so creatively challenging. It’s not entirely new, which I think helps. It’s a short story, currently referred to as ‘The Ghost Story’, which is a sad excuse of a title. I tried to write it nearly four years ago in my Intermediate Fiction class. But, I think the idea was a bit too ambitious for my writing skills then. And so there’s just pages of handwritten scribble, a rough sketch of what the story could be, and it never reached the end.

So today, and over the next few weeks, I’m going to type up what I have so I know what I’m working with, and start refining and finishing this short story.

That should start today, but work is chock-a-block full of distractions, so we’ll see what progress gets made.

And, even with a new project looming, I’m still glowing with that wonderful sense of success!

Just gotta keep on writing!

 

BZ

Milestones and Works in Progress

All right,

After a nice ‘weekend’ spent playing Borderlands 2 with the boy, seeing The World’s End again, and then a night out at the casino, it’s back to the real work.

Starbucks, sure, but writing as well. Chapter 18 starts today! Hopefully it will end sometime this weekend, but Trevor’s schedule changes Sunday, so my schedule is going to get tweaked.

What I really wanted to talk about here was a milestone I hit this week. The blog officially hit 1,000 views on Tuesday!

I wanted to thank all of you who stop by and at least glance at all the things I have to say. I hope that it helps you, maybe even inspires you, or at least entertains you to some extent.

1,000 views over the course of almost 2 years, really isn’t much, I know. But, I haven’t been the most consistent poster, either. These last couple months that I’ve been writing on a schedule I have posted more than ever and have had more views per month than ever.

Things are steadily climbing up for me. The novel is almost done. Painfully close. And Sanderson’s class, though the community is starting to fail, has really convinced me to write consistently. I’ve written over half of my novel in the last two months!

And that’s just plain success in my book. I’m writing at least 5 days a week, generally busting out about a chapter a week. That’s still sort of slow going, but I’m picking up speed.

Already I’m planning what’s coming next. After the novel’s rough draft is done, I will return to some short stories that need love, in order to submit them in the spring. I might even take a workshop class in the winter if I really think I need it. And then, when those are done and submitted, I’m going to start the new novel. It’s clawing to get out, and I can’t wait to develop the world, characters, and magic system. But, it needs to wait. I need to get distance from ‘Vessels’ and work on smaller things so I can finish them quickly. Then, when the rough draft of the new novel is well underway, I’ll start editing ‘Vessels’.

And that will be an exciting adventure all its own.

Anyway, thanks blogland for reading. I’ll see you all wither tomorrow or Monday for the Week 8 Summary! Brandon talked about Plotting this week, and I learned a lot! Be ready for a pretty detailed post.

Much Love,

BZ