The Recap – October 2019

And just like that, October came and went. It was filled with pumpkins and rain and friends and all those cozy fall things. It was also a busy work month and a busy writing work month. Which probably explains why it went so quickly.

October Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
    • YES! This story took a long time.
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
    • YES! It’s out for submission right now!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • YES! Three stories are out and The Cost of Rain was accepted this month!
  • Keep reading!
    • YES! I read five titles this month, which is a huge improvement over the last couple of months!

Total Word Count: 865

Holy Crow y’all. My whole month is in the black! When did that happen? I felt like a did a whole lot of nothing this month, but the whiteboard doesn’t lie. I got shit done! I think this earns me a happy dance. happy dance gif 2

I really gotta work on this unrealistic expectations thing I have going. Even when I’m working hard and making progress, I always feel like I haven’t done anything. I need to relax y’all.

But, November is hardly the month for relaxation. Nanorwrimo, birthdays, holidays, family visiting… Yep. There’s the stress. Found it.

November Goals

  • Write 25k words
  • Read 10 titles
  • Continue short story subs

Short and sweet and oh so challenging this month, y’all. I love this time of year. I love the weather and the clothing and the general good feeling of spending time with loved ones. But man, I’m exhausted just thinking about the month ahead.

The biggest stressor is probably my family coming up from Arizona for Thanksgiving. Now, let me be absolutely clear: I AM SO F*&%ING EXCITED to have them spend the holiday with us. I’ve been looking forward to it for the better part of six months. We’ve gone down to AZ for the holidays a few times now, and I love seeing everyone, but this is different. This is my nuclear family coming up and seeing my house for the first time, eating our food, and sharing my space and life during my most favorite time of year.

I don’t know. It feels so much more special this way. I am so happy and excited to see them.

But, all of that being said. Hosting any sort of event with a houseful of people is stressful to me. I like my house the way it is. Husband, dog, and me. It’s quiet and relaxing. An actual sanctuary against the outside world. Inviting others inside is… stressful. That’s all there is to it.
nano 2019

Add to this stress not just normal Nanowrimo stress, but HOSTING Nanowrimo stress and, well, yikes. Again, exciting stuff, but a ton of work. And somewhere in all of this I need to read and write. A lot.

Which means I need to wrap this up and get to work! I’ll be back next week with the Goals Summary and October’s Reading Round Up.

‘Til then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #25

Hiya Bloggos!

Last week was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. A phone interview, prepping for an in-person interview, a hike, yard work, and a migraine meant there just wasn’t a whole lot of writing time.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Work on something fun!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Sorry about that.
  • Revise In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Yes! A got another revision done, and think I made some critical changes to help with pacing.
  • Work on something fun!
    • Not really? With all the resume building and interview prep, revising Ghosts was my fun work.

Weekly Word Count: 0

I hate writing that. Even when word count wasn’t a big goal, it feels bad to say I wrote nothing in a whole week. But I was busy, and very very distracted. I could very well be unemployed at the end of this week, so you know. I’ve got a lot going on in my brain right now.

One thing that helped with that was a hike at Cape Meares. Two weeks off from my weekend hikes had me winded for most of the morning, and was a harsh reminder that it’s so easy to lose forward momentum when it comes to fitness.

Another thing that helped was bingeing The Great British Bake Off and Good Omens. I love them both and found them so uplifting when my world was very suddenly dark.

Revisions on the short story continue. I think I fixed the big problem and from here I think it’ll be about streamlining the story, cutting, and making the words sing. I think placing it will be tricky. It’s a quiet story that doesn’t really fit into any one genre. But that’s okay. I believe that writing stories for ourselves is the most important thing. I wrote a story that I wanted to tell, and either I’ll find an editor that loves it like I do, or I won’t. And that’s okay.

These past couple weeks have been a big lesson in accepting the things I cannot change. You’d think, having grown up at AA meetings, I’d know how to do that already, but it’s been difficult. I like having control (who doesn’t) and when life gets out of control, I tend to panic. I’m doing a lot of deep breathing these days.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Read something!

That’s it. I want to keep it simple this week. Read something, edit a bit, talk on the blog. Pretty much just get out of my head and onto the page. I’ll be waiting for news about an interview this week, and if I don’t do something escapist I will go insane. I’d really prefer not to.

That’s it Bloggarts. This is all I’ve got for you. The adrenaline of this morning’s interview is ebbing and I am so very tired now. I’ll be around.

 

BZ

 

 

The Recap – December 2018

Hey Blogland!

So, I’ve done things a bit backward this week, but I really wanted to get the blog updated and share my successes and challenges of 2018. With that done, I can finally share how my December went, and what I want to do in the first month of 2019!

December Goals

  • Write 10k
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read three more titles!

How’d I do?

  • Write 10k
    • Nope. I did write some though, mostly fanfic oneshots that intrigued me and actually spurred my writing muscle into limited action.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes… technically. The holidays are a rough time to have submissions pending. Everything slows down and I’m still waiting to hear back on each of my stories.
  • Read three more titles!
    • Yes! I finished four titles in December, sending me just past my reading goal for the year!

Total Monthly Word Count: 3,902

This month was really a month of rest. I underestimated just how much juice Nanowrimo took. My brain felt wrung out. Numb. Capable of nothing more than the autopilot routines that ensured I navigated my day-to-day with moderate success. I didn’t pressure myself into anything. I read when I felt like it and wrote when inspiration struck. It was slow and meandering, until it wasn’t.

A migraine, complete with nausea, gave me the opportunity to listen to a couple audiobooks I’d forgotten about on my Audible app, and Skyward was good enough that I had to buy it so I could finish it before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 9.23.00 PM
I’m dying… 

All three stories are still out, waiting to hear back. It’s tough to be patient, but it IS the holidays, and I don’t want to be THAT guy. You know, the nagging harper that irritates an editor into a rejection. I am not that person.

Yet.

January Goals

  • Write 12k words on Tavi
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Okay… That’s a lot of writing. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know if I’ll be able to write that much on my Urban Fantasy novel. I want to. Very much so. But it’s going to take some serious discipline to carve out the time necessary to do so. And, really, I’ll be happy if I even get close.

I did the math on my goal of finishing Tavi by April and that means I have to write about 16k words a month on it. I don’t think that’s going to happen, so I shaved off a few thousand and told myself that would have to do.

Sanctuary will come along in its own time. I need to read through what I have so far and spend some time brainstorming and outlining, figuring out what I want and need this story to accomplish. Once I have a map, I’ll know what to do. I’m confident that 1k will be the minimum I write on this project this month.

The beatings will continue until morale improves. Wait… Submissions. I mean, submissions will continue until these stories find homes. Yeah. That’s it.

knight's shadowAnd I’m reading. I’ve got an audiobook about whales and the second Greatcoats book in my bag, following me along each day. Reading will probably slow down a little as I focus back on writing this month.

So, yeah. That’s January. I’m optimistic, but a little daunted by the high expectations I’ve set for the first month of 2019. We’ll see how it goes!

This should be the last post of the week, barring anything that demands sharing. I’m trying not to think too much about the fact that I will hear from Oregon Literary Arts sometime soon about whether or not I was selected to receive a grant. Because, as if waiting for short story responses wasn’t stressful enough, I’m also waiting for a letter to find out if I’m getting a check to write for 2019.

Yep. I’m going crazy over here. And it’s only the first week of January…

 

BZ

 

 

If I’m Being Honest

Okay. I’m here. I’m back in my office and I’ve updated my whiteboard for the first time in over a month. And I have to say, it feels really good. I’ve been out of sorts for months now, really since March. I have learned that I am a creature of habit, more so than I already acknowledged, and this summer has put forth a concerted effort to keep me from doing anything in any semblance of routine.

Week-long video game binges, my husband lost his job, two of my biggest music icons took their own lives, my best friend almost died, and then we had extended house guests for the first time in my life. Coupled with applying, interviewing, and being denied two full time positions at my work and really I’m just a ball of rubber-bands stretched too tight: one has got to snap eventually.

I think the only thing that kept me from snapping was all the fanfic I wrote, and the friends I made on tumblr because of it. Since mid-April, I’ve written 168,799 words of fanfiction. Just… let that number sink in. 168 THOUSAND 799 words.

Of fanfiction.

I’m still trying to convince myself that’s okay. Anyone I talk to in my personal life or online seems to find it incredible and awesome. Thanks guys! But, my writer brain is still royally pissed that all that effort and output went to fanfiction.

But, if I’m 100% honest, I really LOVED writing it, and I fully intend to finish it before the end of the year. Also, I’m going to continue to write small prompts and drabbles, because they are fun, and I need writing to be fun still. Also, this year has shown me that I am absolutely capable of writing a novel in a month (if it’s a short one).

I’m not good at being honest with others when it comes to my mental health. I internalize everything, and I am usually the “solid” person in my circle of friends. I give advice and keep my shit together. So, when I start to break under pressure, or when my mind is trying to sabotage me, I don’t feel like I have anyone to tell, other than my husband. And even then, he had just as tough a summer as I did so it was easy to convince myself not to make things harder on him by being completely honest. So, I drop hints that I’m not feeling myself, to which he’s receptive, and we commiserate about our mild depression.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling isolated, raw, and like a useless piece of shit. And it’s all my own fault. I know it is. I could just talk to someone, and feel one hundred times better. I KNOW this. And now I understand why so many people never suspect the depths of their loved ones’ depression, why so many suicides are so shocking. Because, you can KNOW what you need to do to fix things, to make yourself feel better, and it doesn’t matter. You can know it, but you’re powerless to either find the right words, or time, or simply the energy to bring it up.

I want to note that, the fact that I’m here, talking about this means I’m feeling much better and am confident that I am on the path to getting back to my old self. I also want to state that at no point this summer did I contemplate any sort of self-harm. I was/am depressed, for the first time in a way that was recognizable to me, and that has shone a light on what it must be like to battle these feelings constantly. I understand now, in my own small way, how exhausting it must be and how incredibly lonely, even if you’re good at putting on a brave face and doing things to convince others you’re okay.

I understand, and I’m so sorry anyone has to put up with these constant feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing, and loneliness. And I know that, for many people, it doesn’t end. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, where someday you’ll feel good again and actually want to do something productive with your time.

And I’m so sorry, I wish I knew better how to help.

But, I’m seeing that light now, and I’m gifted days of incredible output and energy. I fully intend to make good on them.

So, later this week I will be back to talk about Proven Guilty. I’ve made some goals for the rest of the week, and if they go well, I’ll be back on Monday to do a goals summary for the first time in over six months!

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Goals Summary Wk 11/14

Hello Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything too intense. But, it was a busy weekend, and a very stressful week for me in general, so let’s discuss.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Read Mass Effect Revelation
  • Write 4k words

Overall, nothing too taxing. However, the only one I completed was the writing. Which, overall, is the best one, I suppose. I only published one post last week, and my reading fell off pretty sharply. But, I wrote 7,109 words last week!

That puts my total word count for NaNo at 11,444 words. Since my goal is 15k for the month, I’m doing really well!

Want to know why this week was so stressful?

Welllllll, I put my two week notice in at Starbucks. That part has mostly been relieving. It’s been oddly blissful at Starbucks for me every since, and I only have one shift left before bringing my time as a Partner to an end. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll have the reaction everyone is expecting me to. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time with Starbucks. I have learned so much, and met so many wonderful people who have become like family to me, but it’s time to move on.

That being said, I thought I was moving on. Even from the library. I had put my notice in there too, but I quickly realized that was a mistake. This new position that was offered to me would have been a wonderful opportunity to learn something entirely new, and to work for two people I respect and admire immensely. But, leaving the library just felt wrong. I thought I could do it, and I was wrong.

So, I backed out of the new job, and genuinely felt awful about it. Nauseous, shaking, on the verge of a panic attack. But, they say the hardest decisions are usually the right ones. And I know that staying at the library is the right choice.

So, I’ve been an anxious wreck all week, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life. Now that it’s all sorted, I feel I can get back to some normalcy.

temple-of-the-dog
Lighting was very well done.

Except we went to Seattle on Sunday to see Temple of the Dog perform on Monday night. We had an awesome little two day trip, and we explored and ate and drank, like we like to do. And the concert was just amazing. A once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of my all time favorite records performed in its entirety. I have zero regrets.

temple-of-the-dog-2
And we had pretty nice seats!

Even if we had to drive four hours back home last night, and then get up to go to work today.

And so here we are, a day late. Again. What do I want to do this week? Well, it is the holiday week, so things are bound to be a bit lax on the writing and reading front. But, I also have more time off this week than usual, so maybe I’ll prove disciplined.

Here’s hoping!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Mass Effect Revelation
  • Start reading Arcanum Unbounded (I’m bound to tell you all about it as soon as I can)
  • Write 3k words

A little ambitious, what with hosting Thanksgiving in our house for the first time, but the writing has been going really well this month. At least, when I sit down to write.

That’s the plan, Stans. We’ll see how it ends up. If I finish my current book, I should be here to write a review. It’ll be my first tie-in review, so that will be interesting. I hope you’re looking forward to it.

And, I hope you all have wonderful afternoons with your families. Share some food, love, and thanks with the people that matter most. That’s what Thursday is about.

Until then, have so more pictures from our trip!

 

BZ

 

 

Side Projects and Goodbyes

Hi Blogland,

Today was a rough one for me. On top of being in a generally bad mood all day, my cat was euthanized. Though he hasn’t lived with me for over six years, he was my childhood cat. A black short-hair named Louis, after Anne Rice’s vampire. He was the runt of his litter, and I treated him like my baby. I taught him to eat hard food, and to use a litter box successfully. He slept with me, curled against my chest as a kitten, and later in life curled at my feet. He was vocal and demanding, loved the most ridiculous of people foods, and was generally weird, like most cats.

IMG_0390
My black cat, resting on an Edgar Allan Poe omnibus.

And today my mom decided that living through kidney disease, vomiting multiple times a day, was no life at all. I tend to agree with her. He was losing weight, fast, and though his personality was intact, he was sick frequently. I understand it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to think about.

But, it’s not just Louis. I’ve been pretty frustrated lately. Mostly with school. It’s boring. It’s not remotely challenging, and it is really disappointing to me that this is what upper level education looks like in America. That this is what’s keeping me from focusing on my writing.

It’s making me crazy.

So, to keep my sanity, I’ve taken part in a side project.

The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy is a new magazine, started by a friend of a friend here in Salem. Thanks to our mutual friend, I’m now included in this awesome publication, mainly as an Editor.

And guess what? We’re currently accepting submissions! The submission period ends March 20th, and we’re looking to publish the first issue sometime in April.

Learn more about submission guidelines by visiting us on Facebook.

So, that’s awesome. So far, the poems and short stories that have come through my inbox are really quite impressive. I wasn’t aware Lovecraftian fiction and gothic poetry still had a viable presence among modern writers. It’s been quite the pleasant surprise!

So, you’ll probably be hearing about The Audient Void from time to time, as we work toward publishing issues.

Other upcoming topics of interest include:

  • Mistborn: Secret History book review
  • Continuing edits on Draft 2 of The Steel Armada
  • Preparation of Query Letter for The Steel Armada
  • School, especially next term’s Intro to Writing Sci-Fi class

So, keep a weather eye out for some writing projects in the near future!

See you soon, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Drowning

Hi.

I’m sorry for the gap in posts. It’s been a crazy month, and I’m barely managing to keep my head above the tide.

There’s been a lot of stress in my life in the last couple months. I’m surviving, but there’s been a lot of changes. I transferred from my Starbucks, where I worked for over three years, and am adjusting to my new store. A lot of names to learn, and new procedures and customers too.

I’m still killing it over at the library, and I’m still working an average of 52 hours a week. Tomorrow is my first day off this month. Tonight is the first Book Club meeting of the second list. We’re discussing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Devan is slaving away at homemade barbecue as we speak. I’m looking forward to it.

My personal reading has ground to a halt. I think I’ve read about 30 pages in the last two weeks, which is why I’m grateful for Book Club, because I absolutely devoured Miss Peregrine’s. I’m still working my way through The Republic of Thieves, and it’s so good! It kills me that I don’t have the time for it.

Summer school was a mistake. Everyone I talk to tells me I’m smart for doing it, that it was the right decision. But, I’m skating by in this class, bound for a mid-range B instead of my typical A+. It’s going to hurt my GPA. And that Dean’s List recognition for last term? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen again.

I will say that the books we’ve been assigned are generally dreadful. The Great Gatsby? I’ve read it twice before this class. I’m over it. The Old Man and the Sea? I read this my Junior year of high school, and wrote an AP essay on it that earned a 7. You AP veterans know what I’m talking about. Then we read Ceremony, which I really wanted to like. But, the delivery just wasn’t working. I loved the more poetic, chant-like moments, but the actual narrative was needlessly complex. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison was nice, but could have been such a shorter story. I ended up skimming a lot of it. And then Cat’s Cradle, by Vonnegut. The only book that actually captured my imagination and managed to entertain me.

We had a week to read and discuss each book. With my time stretched between the two jobs, this was difficult for me to do. And next term is going to be more of the same. Although it’s a class on Noir Literature, so the book list is already much more entertaining. Hopefully that will help.

Then there’s Caladria. I feel pretty bad. I took on more responsibility than I can handle. And I’ve been slacking with them, which is the last thing I want. But, my new Starbucks is promising to keep me around 20-25 hours a week, so I should have more time to devote to writing and editing. I don’t want to slack in this, it’s the only side project I have, and to give it up feels like surrendering a part of myself.

I haven’t written any fiction that isn’t Caladria related, and I tell myself that’s OK. Doesn’t really feel that way though. I’d write about trying to finally finish those Vessels edits, but let’s be honest, I don’t have the time.

So, I’m here, treading water. Every blog post is like my mouth breaking the surface and gulping in a lungful of air, before the tide swallows me up again.

We’ll see how long I can hold my breath.

BZ