The Recap – August 2019

Woof. I uh… maybe fell off the map there for awhile. I’m sorry y’all. Work started on August 12th and I’m just now coming up for air. My new job (high school librarian) has been taking ALL of my bandwidth. I’ve barely been reading. I’ve watched a lot of television which we all know is unusual behavior for me, because it’s all my brain can really handle.

But, I dealt with the submissions stuff today and have edits for The Audient Void to work on. I’ve been reading/listening to audiobooks and the day-to-day of work is starting to even out. Hopefully that means I’ll begin working on my writing again soon.

August Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whales rough draft
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. Admittedly, it’s mostly been waiting, but even at my lowest, I didn’t let submissions stagnate.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Definitely not.
  • Finish Whales rough draft
    • Close! I think 1k more and it’ll be done. It’s just a really hard, emotional 1k. Also, renamed The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • No. I didn’t finish a single title in August. That’s really disheartening.

Monthly Word Count: 1,234

So yeah. Writing-wise, August was a low point for sure. It was a blur, and I don’t have much to say other than I’m ready to move on. It’s a little late in the month to set goals, but I’m not going to let that stop me!

September Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

I need to keep things simple for the rest of the month and keep my goals SUPER small. A thousand-ish words, continue submissions, and keep reading. That’s it. That’s all I need to do to feel good come October first. I can do that.

Right now I’m reading Our Dark Duet, as well as listening to Saint’s Blood. I need to read some more short stories and get back on track for my reading goal. I am REALLY behind, let me tell you. Hopefully soon I’ll have a book review for you guys.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

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The Recap – July 2019

July is a blur. Not even a blur, really. More a collection of images stamped in my brain, flashes of days spent wallowing and letting myself off the hook for my lack of productivity. I read a lot, watched a lot of TV, and played a lot of video games. I gave myself permission to immerse myself in the misery of sudden, unexpected unemployment.

Not my finest month, by any stretch.

July Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
    • Narp. I did revise one chapter, but there’s like, eight of them, so… not what we’d call a success.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. I at least didn’t allow my complete lack of motivation keep my stories from getting work done. All three are still out.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Nope. I did read two from Transcendent 2 though.
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
    • Nope. I did make some great progress, all things considered. Maybe about halfway? I’m calling it Whales in my head, but the actual title is The Lament of Kivu Lacus.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I at least managed to do this! I read six titles in July, most of them Nonfiction about running libraries. But it’s still reading! I did a thing!

Monthly Word Count: 1,720

I’m working really hard not to be too critical of myself for this past month. When I look at all the inconsistency, how I ghosted on the blog a couple of times, how I couldn’t rely on myself to put my ass in the chair and get work done… it feels bad. My office door was closed most of this month, and almost all of my computing happened from the couch. Granted, some of that was fiction writing, but still. It feels gross.

But, I also know that summer is not a great time for me, historically. I’ve never been let go from a job before, let alone one that meant so much to me, and it was a serious blow to my self-esteem. Which is ridiculous since it was a city-wide layoff. But, my brain can tell me how ridiculous I’m being all damn day, my heart won’t hear it. At least not until it’s wallowed and had entirely too much ice cream.

Stomachaches provide clarity, apparently.

So, what did I do all month? I read a lot, taking notes, planning displays and programs, planting seeds for some networking, and doing the HR on-boarding sort of stuff for the school district. I binged Veronica Mars, The Great British Baking Show, watched more movies than I have in years, and played Red Dead Redemption II. I did a lot of chores. There was a weekend in Bend too, to celebrate our anniversary.

For some that looks like a nice summer vacation. For me it reeks of depression. All that downtime and I only wrote 1700 words? Yikes. I didn’t even apply for the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. I couldn’t muster the energy.

But, today I opened my new planner (July 2019-June 2020) and wrote in all my holidays and non-working days (school schedules are whack, y’all), and I’m feeling prepared and dare I say inspired?

Well, not quite inspired. Maybe intrigued. There’s a little simmer of interest bubbling up in me. I don’t know what it will lead to, but I’ll do my best not to smother it.

August Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whales rough draft
  • Keep reading!

Yep. Those are the goals from last month. They’re good goals. All things I really want to work on. I don’t know how realistic it is to try and do them all the same month I’m starting at a whole new job, but I doubt it could be a worse performance than July. It’s worth striving for.

That optimism alone is refreshing. I just may be on an upswing, Bloggos.

I’d really like to get back into hiking as well this month. July was just such an oddly social, yet so very shut in month. It was all contradictions and self-guilt and escapism. I’m ready to leave that all behind and get back to work.

I’ll be back around with either a reading recap or a book review or something tomorrow.

Until then, Blogland.

 

 

2019 Status Update – Something, Something ABBA lyrics…

As ever, the year is flying by, slipping through our fingers all the time. There’s your dose of ABBA. Although that’s a damn sad song to be the anthem of the first six months. Moving on!

Yearly Goals Completed

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • I finished this back in May, which somehow feels like FOREVER ago, and I’m doing everything in my power to ignore it. I need that distance before I begin editing it in September.

2019 Word Count (so far): 80,744

That’s it so far. Granted, that’s a big one. I wrote a book y’all. That’s a task and a half. Blog-wise, here are some numbers:

  • This is the 64th post on the blog this year, making for an average of 2.2 posts per week. That’s on track for my goal of publishing two posts/week for the year. Hurray!
  • As of this writing, the blog has seen just over 45k words, which is in addition to the almost 81k of fiction I’ve written this year.
  • The blog currently has 562 followers, which continues to amaze me. Thanks for reading!

Speaking of reading, how’s that going this year? My goal is 70 titles, which is the highest goal I’ve ever had. I’ve read 36 titles this year, which Goodreads says is “On Track!”, so there’s that! I really don’t know if I’ll eke out this goal, and I’m not even sure I want to. My policy is, if I surpass my goal I have to up the next year’s goal. My dudes, I don’t think I can read more than 70 books in a year.

What about publishing? How’s that going in 2019? Well, I’ve submitted stories 19 times. I’ve had 4 personal rejections, the rest were form. That’s not as much as I’d hope, but the response times were VERY slow through the spring. This is a tough category to quantify because so much of it is out of my hands. The only true metric for my productivity is my own doggedness. The turnaround time between rejections and submitting again. Those are things I’m in control of. And in those areas, I’d say I’m doing well. The rejections hurt less, even the personal ones, and my turnaround times are almost immediate. Stories don’t languish in my files, waiting for me to feel up to submitting them again. They go out right away. So that’s good.

Unrelated to reading and writing, I have gone on eight hikes so far this year! I’ve really loved getting outdoors and being more active. It’s motivated me to walk more during the week and to even hit the gym on occasion when I’m feeling restless. So I’d call that a major benefit.

2019 – Remaining Priorities

  • Finish Santa Sarita
  • Revise Cards
  • Publish SOMETHING!
  • Publish two blog posts/week
  • Read 70 titles.

So… that’s a lot of stuff. The last two, as discussed, I’m on track for. Thank goodness. But the rest? Well, let’s break it down.

Santa Sarita is my giant Mass Effect Andromeda fanfic series, which I started back in April of 2017. It was supposed to be single oneshot, which then turned into several multi-chapter fics and a oneshot collection. Well over 250k words later, I’m working(?) on the last fic in the series. I wanted to finish it this year. Honestly? I have no idea if that will happen. I’ve barely looked at it and am currently utterly uninspired and lack motivation to work on it at all.

Cards is my second novel ever, inspired by the blend of a Wild West setting with magic that I’d read in Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. Still one of my favorite books, by the way. I finished it in the spring of 2014, right before I got married. I have never gone back to read it, and at this point I’m sort of afraid to do so. Because I know it will be a complete rewrite, just like The Steel Armada was. It deals with some really heavy themes of racism and oppression and while my intentions were good, I WAS NOT equipped to handle them back in 2014. I am afraid of what waits for me in those pages. And, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m really equipped to handle those themes today either. I don’t know. The story I set out to tell may not be mine to tell. There’s a lot of rethinking and attention required for this book and I’m not sure I’ll have the time or skills to devote to it in the last half of this year.

Publish something… I knew when I made this a goal that it was risky. It’s something I have absolutely no control over. All I can do is submit, submit, submit until something sticks. I’ve had some really close calls this year, but so far, nothing’s landed. I can’t really do anything about that, except carry on. Good thing I am one stubborn chick.

Other Things To Do

  • Revise Exodus: Descent
    • There aren’t a lot of paying markets for novellas, but a few of them are open this fall and I want Exodus ready to go when the time comes.
  • Decide on a NaNoWriMo project
    • I have no idea what the hell I’ll be working on come November. Maybe finishing Santa Sarita? It’s a possibility. I’ll have family in town from out of state for the holiday, so I need to take that into consideration as well.
  • Keep writing
    • I have plenty of short story ideas, and who knows when a novel idea will pop up? Or you know, I could finish my giant fantasy series. That’s always an option.
  • More hikes
    • I’ve loved my outdoor time this year and hope to continue as long as weather permits.

That’s the year so far and the months yet to come. I don’t have much of a vision for the last half of the year, mainly because I have no idea what my daily life will look like in the coming months. Being unemployed has really thrown a wrench in my routines and my goals. Who knew?

 

BZ

The Recap – June 2019

What a rollercoaster month June was. Full of writing, editing, hiking, sudden and utterly unexpected unemployment, reading, and binge-watching uplifting television to turn off my brain.

ting
There’s nothing that Aziraphale and Crowley can’t fix! Well, besides Armageddon, that is.

June Goals

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Sorta. It’s close. I thought it was done, sent it a couple places, but now think it still needs some tweaks. So, I don’t know. It came a super long way and I’m proud of my output on this project during the month, but the story isn’t quite there yet. Also, it’s now called A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Three stories are still out. These markets all have longer average wait times, so it’ll probably be awhile before I hear anything back from them.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Yes? I read them all in like, a week. But I read four of them, so that still counts. Right?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. Though not as much as I would have liked. I read five titles this month, counting Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, which I really read over the course of the first half of the year, but finally finished in June. I’m still two book ahead on my Goodreads Challenge, which is a pleasant surprise since I feel like I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately.

Monthly Word Count: 6,298

I should feel pretty good. My monthly goals on my whiteboard are all in black. That means they’re done. I should get a cookie or something. I also finally got that last trophy in Detroit: Become Human, so I am obviously super cool and not a nerd at all.

As for hikes, there were only two this month because of various goings on in my life as well as a trip out of town for my hiking buddy. But, we still managed to hike both Marion Lake and Cape Meares this month, which were both stunning and quite challenging. I can tell that my cardio is improving (easily done seeing as my cardio is notoriously bad) and my legs are building up muscle. I’ve also found that hiking really helps settle my mind and get me focused for the week ahead. I’m still loving these Pacific Northwest adventures. Marion Lake

We also spent a healthy amount of time clearing out our horribly overgrown backyard. It was nice to be out in the warm weather, but man I super-di-duper hate yard work. But, the hard part is all done now, and we can spend the month of July getting it perfected. We’re even considering building in a fire pit! Fancy.

Writing-wise this was a very straightforward month. I worked on A Lullaby for Mattie Barker pretty much exclusively, except for a couple of tumblr fanfic prompts. I wish I had more enthusiastic news about the writing process, but this story is a weird one. It’s hard to classify and I took some narrative risks with it that were relatively new to me. I don’t know if it’s successful, or if it even can be successful. But I like it. I’m proud of what it is so far. I just think there’s still something not quite right about it.

Pretty sure it’s the ending. I just don’t know how to fix it. Yet.Three Arch Rock

I did start working on a new short story, though I feel a little disingenuous saying so. This story is incredibly vague for me still. I know so little about the plot and the characters that really I’m just writing to get to know them all, and eventually I’ll have enough to shape it into something like a story. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Oh yeah, there was a migraine in there too. And an eye appointment (I’m getting prescription sunglasses!) and a massage. Self-care and all that.

July Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
  • Keep reading!

A little more ambitious this month, but I’m also not working right now. I have more time, even as I’m applying for jobs and catching up on housework. I ought to get as much writing work done as possible, right?

I have a couple hikes lined up for this month, three I think. But, I also have a lot of socializing this month what with a good friend’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. That’s all stuff to look forward to, though. It’s going to be a really good, really weird month.

I’ll keep saying that until it comes true.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #26

Blogland. I don’t have much to say this morning. No quip about the weather or complaints about how fast last week went by. There’s just me, a laptop, and you. Let’s just get to it.

Last Week

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

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Not a lot of substance, because it’s been a hard week, but they’re there.
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghoststhis savage song
    • Yes? I thought I did, and sent it out. Got rejected. Then I got some feedback from a friend and made some changes last night. And by some changes, I mean largely rewrote it. So… Yeah. I’m not really sure where it is at this moment. Also, it’s been retitled A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Read something!
    • Yes! I finally finished This Savage Song.

Weekly Word Count: 1,111

Man. This has been a week. I did some errands on Wednesday and felt great most of the day, but Thursday, Friday, and particularly yesterday were all very hard for me. But, I feel like a broken record about this. So, let me say it for the last time.

LOSING A JOB YOU LOVE IS FUCKING HARD.

There. I’m done with that now. Moving on.

Writing-wise this week was pretty non-eventful. I edited and tweaked Lullaby, wrote a little bit for a new short story that’s still very nebulous, and then feverishly made a bunch of changes to Lullaby. I haven’t looked at them yet to see if they make sense or are in anyway better, but I felt inspired last night, so hopefully it was the right decision.

I didn’t go hiking last weekend, but spent the day with family and had some really good food at a new New Orleans inspired place in town. I finally earned the last trophy for Detroit: Become Human, so I can finally say I beat that game! And we watched lots of The Great British Bake Off.

Basically, I tried my best to do things that were mind-numbing/relaxing. If I thought too much then I felt wildly out of control which is a 100% guaranteed way to spike my anxiety. So I did things to feel in control. Yard work. Paint my nails. Clean my office. Play video games. It would have been nice if it weren’t for the need for literal escapism.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
  • Read a short story

I actually have quite a bit of blogging to do this week. The monthly update, a book review, and maybe even a six month review of the blog and my writing in 2019 so far. There’s also the reading round up for June, but I wouldn’t expect that until next week at least. So, lots of action on the blog in the coming weeks.

I’ll talk more about my goals for Exodus: Descent in tonight’s Monthly Recap, but I need to include it in this week’s goals if I want to get started on that project.

IMG_20180825_171815 (1)The new short story is… weird. It doesn’t know what it is yet, or what it wants to accomplish. I’m just writing until things gel together, and then I’ll see what I can make out of it. It’s SF and very character driven, at least so far. It was inspired by a card from a board(?) game called Mysterium. The story has grown since then and the card doesn’t really reflect it anymore, but that’s where the kernel came from.

I haven’t read a short story in a while, so I wanted to make a point of it this week. That will be in addition to the reading and listening I’ll be doing anyway. I’m still (slowly) listening to Saint’s Blood and just started reading Our Dark Duet, the sequel to This Savage Song, last night. I expect my reading will be much improved this month, what with my sudden free time.

But, that’s all the blog and writing goals. I don’t have answers for what comes next beyond those. I have a list of jobs to apply for, have just applied for unemployment (that’s a first!), and have a list of chores to get done each day.

I don’t sit still well and I don’t want to wallow, so I’m keeping myself busy. Which reminds me, I think it’s time to talk the dog for a walk.

Later, Bloggos.

 

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

 

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #23

Y’all. Last week felt long, but not in a bad way. I felt like I moved through the week like Quicksilver, speeding by and getting shit done in half the time it would normally take. I wrote a short story, edited it, watched movies, went to the zoo, played video games, and worked more than usual!  I used that momentum to my advantage.quicksilver gif.gif

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1k on In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Finish listening to Knight’s Shadow
  • Start reading Revenger

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog postsknight's shadow.jpg
    • Yarp. Three actually.
  • Write 1k on In Great Need of Ghosts
    • uhhh… yeah. Like, four times that.
  • Finish listening to Knight’s ShadowYes! It was a really good listen, too.
  • Start reading Revenger
    • Yes. It’s going kinda slow, but I’m about 75 pages in so I’ll give it a few more days.

Weekly Word Count: 4,009

That word count really tells you how I spent my week. The week before was slow going for the story, with under 1k words but Monday and Tuesday I hammered out the entire rough draft. I’ve revised it to its third draft and sent it to some folks for feedback. We’ll see what they think and see if my brain comes up with anything else to fix about it.

I finished listening to Knight’s Shadow and have a full review forthcoming. I finished it just in time for a new Audible credit, so I’ll be starting the third Greatcoats book soon. I’m struggling with Revenger. I’ll give it this week, but if it doesn’t grab me by then I’ll shelve it for something else on my TBR.

There was no hike this weekend, with my hiking buddy out of town, so I arranged for my family to get together and spend the day at the zoo. The Oregon Zoo was wonderful! there’s still a lot of construction happening as they’re in the final stages of using a bond from 2008, but the new enclosures are so awesome! Elephants have a North Meadow, a central pond, a South Meadow, and an indoor area. It’s designed to encourage the elephants to move, much like they would in the wild foraging for food. All of the elephants were incredibly active, moving from place to place, eating and interacting with one another. And by interacting, I mean interacting. Seeing elephants heed the call of nature wasn’t something I ever wanted to see and now I can’t unsee it. So, hurray… There were a lot of other amazing enclosures and the plan for the polar bear, chimpanzee, and rhino habitats look amazing. I’m excited to go back once it’s all done in 2020. oregon zoo.png

So, What’s Next?

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

I don’t have any major projects scheduled until July. I didn’t anticipate that this story would be so close to done so soon. I’ll spend this week hammering it out and polishing it, and see where that takes me. Last night I had a big urge to reread my long fanfic series, or to read other fanfic. I miss it a bit, so I think I’m going to spend the next two weeks reading and writing some fanfic. For once, I have the time and the motivation, so I ought to make good on it.

I should be hiking again this weekend, somewhere on the coast. So I have that to look forward to, and a week of gaming, reading and writing fanfic. What’s not to love?

I’ll be back this week with the review fo Knight’s Shadow. I don’t think I’ll be back with anything else, but let’s keep our fingers crossed. Maybe I’ll get some publishing news.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ