New Year’s New Look!

Every year, on or around January 1st, I overhaul the blog. I’m not sure if it serves any other purpose besides catching my interest in my site and giving me a fresh breath of air after 365 days of something else.

So, here’s the new look, I hope you all like it. I was a little sad to see the last look go, because it was my favorite so far in the past 4 years of blogging. But, I have high hopes for this one. It’s even more streamlined than last year’s (weird), and I like the headers with social media links at the top.

Yeah. It feels good, man.

All right, here’s the gross part about New Year’s posts. I have to talk about my ambitions for 2017 and how I did in accomplishing them. Spoiler alert, 2017 was not a good year for me.

Last year I said I wanted to:

  • edit The Steel Armada into draft #3
  • submit The Portrait of Sterling Madison to The Audient Void
  • finish From the Quorum rough draft
  • edit Cards into draft #2
  • publish 104 blog posts, roughly 2 per week
  • read 60 books

How did I do? Well, I did make some progress on The Steel Armada, especially in the last half of the year. I’m about halfway through editing the second draft, but the realization that it needs pretty extensive rewrites has me a bit disheartened.

I didn’t submit The Portrait of Sterling Madison this year. If you don’t recall, this is a horror short story that has haunted me for the better part of seven years. I wanted to do a lot with this small piece, and every attempt just proved that my writing chops weren’t where they needed to be to make it work. But, I did finally hammer out the best draft of it yet, quite unexpectedly, as I’d shelved it yet again. I’m confident I’ll find a home for it in 2018!

I did not finish From the Quorum. In fact, I got about halfway, because it’s the largest story I’ve ever undertaken. I outlined the whole book through to the end back in April, and we’re looking at about 100k word manuscript. It’s currently at 51k, so literally halfway there. I saw that projected word count and panicked, and haven’t worked on it since then.

I made a deal with myself: I cannot edit Cards until The Steel Armada is complete. Since I didn’t make the headway with edits like I planned, I did not even look at Cards this year. However, I did some minimal edits on my Cards short story Since the Fire, in the hopes that I can find it a home in 2018.

I published 42 post last year… Ugh. No where close to my goal. Not even all that close to half of my goal. That’s rough buddy. Sorry for neglecting you all this year.

I managed to squeak in 62 books this year, according to Goodreads, and man that feels good. I needed a win.

I read 14,072 pages across 62 booksImg bookstack 72

What the heck did I do in 2017?

I wrote. A lot. In 2017 I wrote two original short stories and four chapters for From the Quorum. The short stories are both Horror pieces, The Seasons is an all new piece that I’m really proud of, and Lifelike is the newest incarnation of The Portrait of Sterling Madison. Honestly, it’s different enough, and written in such a whirlwind of inspiration that I don’t even consider it a rewrite; it really is an all new story. These projects total 17,321 words.

But, I did my most damage working on Fanfiction. I know, I know. You roll your eyes, you immediately see me differently because you know that I write fanfiction. Trust me, I did my fair share of eye-rolling and berating because of it. But, there are a lot of benefits to being a content creator in an active fandom, and I will probably write a whole separate post to talk about my experiences as such. Finally, months later, I regret nothing.

So, I wrote 264,850 words of Fanfic in 2017. Yep. Go ahead, read it again. 264,850 words across multiple longfics (basically multi-chapter serials), oneshots (read: short stories), and drabbles (aka flash fiction).

I wrote more this year than I ever have before, in more styles and genres than I ever thought possible, because of fanfic. I have no regrets. I also won National Novel Writing Month for the very first time because of fanfic. I proved to myself that I absolutely can write long form, can produce content quickly and of a pretty high quality on a deadline. When I needed it most, Fanfic gave me an ego boost. I am proud of my output and my content, and am feeling buoyed into the new year.

But, I did have some other projects this last year.
Audient Void issue 4

I continue to provide “Editorial Assistance” for The Audient Void. I’ve stepped up my duties to weeding through the fiction slush-pile as well as offering line edits when necessary. So, if you submit fiction to us in 2018, there’s a 50-50 chance I’ll be the one who decides whether your story gets considered for publication. MUAHAHAHA!

Ahem.

We released two issues in 2017 and have just finished selecting pieces for the first issue of 2018. So, there was that. Also, I spent a few months swapping fiction with an acquaintance and work-shopping her Middle-Grade Adventure novel. It was an eye-opening experience that really challenged me to leave my comfort zone and learn more about publishing. I also helped her fine tune her query letter, which is really good practice for me when it comes time to write my own.

I also took on some personal projects. I stopped biting my nails, for realsies this time! It’s been months, and I love it. I still keep them short, because typing with nails is nigh impossible, but I’ve accumulated more polish colors and indulge in giving myself manicures now, so that’s nice. I did a 30 day yoga challenge, and signed up for another one that starts tomorrow! I love bringing stretching and movement back into my life (former dancer, here) and it’s really grounded me over the last month. Today we were invited to set an intention for the month, a word or phrase that would guide our practice through to the end. But, I’m going one step further. I’m setting my intention for the year.

FOCUS.

2017 was a wild ramble that saw me dart from project to project, taking on things that were fun and interesting, at the expense of my more serious ambitions. I want to bring focus back into my life. I want to set clear, attainable goals, so that I can set myself up for success. So…

What the heck am I doing in 2018?

  • I am finishing The Steel Armada. Whatever that means, and how ever long that takes. I wrote this book in 2013, it’s time to stamp it done and move on with my writing life.
  • I am finishing my committed longfic series. There are a couple chapters left in this installment, and then a planned sequel. Then it is done. Chickity-check, move on.
  • I am submitting at least two short stories for publication this year, only to SFWA Logomagazines that pay their authors. I’m done sticking ‘feathers in my cap’. I don’t need feathers. I need payouts. I need proof positive that my content is worth buying, I need credentials to pad my query letters and my efforts to join Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) within the next two years.
  • I am giving myself permission to write things for fun. Drabbles and tumblr prompts keep me limber and energized. I love writing them, I love engaging with a fan base. I will not feel guilty for that.
  • I am reading 65 books, per the Goodreads reading challenge.
  • I am publishing 52 blog posts, preferably once a week, no matter what.
  • I am committing to my yoga practice, about 20-30 minutes/day

If time allows, I would like to…

  • make considerable progress (30k words) on From the Quorum
  • Read through and begin edits on Cards
  • write a new Sci-Fi short story
  • maybe begin querying process for The Steel Armada, if I like how it turns out

 

Whew. All right. That’s a pretty big “to-do” list for 2018. Whoops. But, if I’m being honest, these are the goals that mean the most to me. These are the projects I want to work on, and the only way I can do that is if I make the time.

What about you? What will you make time for in 2018? What will be your focus?

As always, thanks for stopping by Blogland, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and look forward to sharing 2018 with you.

 

Best,

BZ

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Call for Submissions

Heya Blogland!

 

Audient Void issue 4
Issue #4, cover art by Allen Koszowski

Below is the official statement from Obadiah Baird, Editor of The Audient Void, regarding our open submissions:

 

Since the fourth issue of The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy is now out we are opening submissions for issue #5. We are looking for quality works of poetry and short fiction.

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

For short fiction our tastes are broad and we will consider anything with Weird, horrific or fantastical elements. We will consider any length work but will be much less likely to publish stories over 5,000 words. Our rate is $5 per thousand words payable upon publication.

Please note that Weird Fiction is a distinct genre. If you are unsure if your work fits please familiarize yourself with its characteristics at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.Weird_fiction. We are not likely to be interested in stories that are simply strange or bizarre without belonging to the genres we publish.

To submit, please send your work as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file to:

theaudientvoidmag@gmail.com

Be sure to include a header with your name and email address. We do not accept simultaneous submissions and ask that you wait for our response before submitting elsewhere. The submission deadline is November 10, please do not inquire about your submission before that deadline and understand that it may take some time to follow up on all submissions after the deadline has passed. 

I look forward to reading everyone’s work!

In addition to my usual line editing duties, I have taken on the additional role of reading submissions! So, I also look forward to reading everyone’s work!

IMG_20171012_114950
The first four issues of The Audient Void, all cover art by Allen Koszowski

To learn more about The Audient Void, or to purchase previous issues, please visit our Facebook page.

Happy Submitting!

 

BZ

Wait… I Wrote How Much?

Hi guys!

I just wanted to stop by and share something pretty incredible with you.

So, remember when I said I was reading and writing a ton of fanfiction? Well, that trend continued through the month of April. I’m pretty sure I just wrote more words in a month than I ever have before.

As of 4/30/17, I wrote a total of 31,113 words. Of fanfiction. Jesus Christ. That is a TON of writing, the most I’ve ever done in so short a time. I’m simultaneously impressed and disgusted/disappointed. Why haven’t I pumped out so many words for my own original content?

Granted, fanfic is “easier” since there’s very little world-building or slogging through early character development. That’s mostly done by the time you get your hands on the content.  I mean, you should still have those things, but the amount of discovering and fleshing out are considerably less. Which is the vast majority of work I’ve been doing on From the Quorum.

So, in a way, this has been a nice exercise. One that  I have no plans of stopping anytime soon. I’ve got another 3 chapters (at least) to write for this particular story, a oneshot (i.e. short story) outlined, and then another full fic planned after that.

But, if I can keep up this pace, that means I should be able to fall back into my own original works once Mass Effect lets me go. Right? That’s what I’m telling myself, anyways.

Saturday was the release party for the third issue of The Audient Void, and it was awesome. There is some really great fiction and poetry in this issue, and the artwork is fantastic as always. The event coincided with Independent Bookstore Day, which meant there were a lot of people there who might not have attended otherwise, and there were snacks and extra special merchandise on hand.

Oh! There was also a cool marionette show, with an original play by Adam Bolivar, that was really quite entertaining!Jack o lantern

But, my favorite part of the event (aside from the customary after party) was that I thought up a new story while I was there. Just a short story, and I won’t go into details about it here, but I hope to write it this year and submit it to the A.V.

We’ll see where I’m at in a few months. If I’m still writing at the pace I am now, I have no doubt I’ll get everything done that I set out to this year, even with this detour. Remember, I planned to fall off the face of the Earth for about two months after  Andromeda came out, so I’m still on schedule.

Anyway, just wanted to share with you all that I am a writing machine these days, even if it’s just fanfic.

See you around,

 

BZ

Well, Hello There!

Hi Blogland,

Huh. It feels kind of weird to be back. I’m still not promising anything, or even pretending I’m back in any sort of routine. I’m not. I still play Mass Effect just about every day, and I’m reading (and writing) way more fanfiction than I ought to.

But, I thought about From the Quorum for the first time in a month the other day. I call that progress. I also felt a pang of guilt/longing for The Steel Armada. We’re getting there.

The whole point of this was to keep me from falling into the spiral of guilt that I normally feel when I hyper-focus on something. When I start feeling guilty for doing things that I enjoy, I tend to further procrastinate the tasks I’ve sacrificed in order to hyper-focus in the first place.

Right now, I tell myself that writing fanfiction is better than not writing at all. And since I’ve put over 6k words into this one fic just in April, I’d say that’s damn good.

Also, The Audient Void #3 is out! Get you one! Available at the Book Bin in downtown Salem, or online at their Facebook page.

My reading has seriously slowed, but a steady stream of fanfiction keeps me going. I fully intend to pick things back up sometime in May. I promise. Pinky swear. All that good stuff.

Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve applied for another full time position with the library. I know better than to assume anything at this point, but I’ve learned a lot in the last 9ish months since my last interview with the city, and I have a lot more confidence in myself than I did even four months ago. Keep your fingers crossed for me just the same, huh?

Thanks for sticking with me through this gaming fog. The fact that I’ve come up for air is promising. I look forward to talking at you all on a regular basis again soon.

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 7

Hi Blogland!

Today is a new day. A day full of possibility, and it’s off to a wonderful start. A stomach full of some egg frittata concoction my husband made, and the bolstering aroma of percolating coffee hangs in the air.

I’m normally off on Mondays (for the time being) but the husband is also off thanks to its being President’s Day. I’m not letting that stop me from sequestering myself in the office and getting work done, however.

In my last post I told you all how sick we were last week, and I’m pleased to say that we’re both back to feeling relatively normal. There’s still the occasional sneeze and stuffy noses in need of tissue, but otherwise we’re well again.

So, how did last week stack up goals-wise? Not as badly as I thought.

Last week I wanted to:

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorumarcanum-unbounded
    • That did not happen. I didn’t even open Scrivener until last night. I considered writing for a tiny moment, but we had company and dinner in the works, so I decided against it.
  • Finish Arcanum Unbounded
    • Done. I don’t think I’ll do a review on this one, mainly because it would either be overly simplistic, glossing over the stories, or far too in depth as I gave each story its own review. Just know that, if you’re a Sanderson fan, you should read it.
  • Publish two blog posts
    • Barely. Last night’s little update counts, so I got to put this one into the black.
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits
    • Yep. Edited about three chapters last night. This is still technically a read through, but I’m taking a lot of notes, both on the pages and in a designated notebook. So, none of these chapters are ready to be called “Draft #3”, but the feedback I’m getting and the notes I’m taking or forcing me to do a lot of thinking and world building. I’m very excited about this editing round!

So, not too bad. Considering the week we had, and how awful I felt, I still managed to get most of my goals done. That feels damn good, and keeps the momentum going forward into this week.Print

What’s on the agenda for the next seven days?

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorum
  • Finish reading The Paper Magician
  • Publish two blog posts
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits/read through/research
    • A note on this one: As I’ve mentioned before, world building and character development are my two main focuses for this round of editing. I’ve done a lot of great work already in answering reader questions and addressing where there’s too many blanks. But, I don’t have enough knowledge about ships in general to describe them and let my characters discuss them in a convincing way. So, I’m doing research. I’ve loaned a book from the library called Sailing Ships by Björn Landström and it is full of diagrams and terminology for all kinds of rigged ships! I’m really looking forward to delving into it and learning more about the world of The Steel Armada.sailing-ships

Book club meets next week to discuss The Paper Magician, so I need to hurry up and get that done. I’m only on chapter 2, but according to fellow Clubbers, it goes pretty quick. After that I’ll need to read and write as much as possible in the two following weeks, because Mass Effect Andromeda releases on March 21st, and I will be useless for a long time after that.

In other news, I’m meeting with the creator/editor/producer of The Audient Void this evening to “discuss some things regarding books”. He and his wife operate a local indie bookstore, and since I work at a library I guess they want to meet up and chat. I’m not really sure about what, and I’m always a little nervous about vague social meetings, so I’m trying not to over-think it too much. I really like them both, so I’m sure it’ll be a fun and interesting conversation.

I’m forcing myself to look forward to it. Anxiety aside, I know I’ll enjoy myself. I’m just not good with unknowns…

Anyway, coffee is done brewing, music is playing, and there’s fiction to write and edit. I’ll talk at you all soon Blogland.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary Wk of 10/17

Hi Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything crazy, but they weren’t overly simplistic either.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Publish the Hollow City book review
  • Finish chapter 7 of FtQ

So, I wrote three blog posts last week! So that’s awesome. And one of them was the Hollow City book review. There’s two down. Now, no huge shock, but I didn’t finish chapter 7 of From the Quorum.

But, I did write 532 words, creating the segue between scenes that was so intimidating to me!

That feels like success.

Also this last week was the release party for The Audient Void #2. Despite the looming threat of a migraine and the 12 hour work day that preceded it, I went to the after party that the Publisher, Obadaiah, hosted. And I had an awesome time! I may have drank a little too much, but I didn’t make a fool of myself and I needed it to calm the fuck down.

As previously discussed, anxiety is a bitch, and I don’t handle new social situations very well. I knew a few people there, but only insomuch as I’ve been in contact with them for The Audient Void. Plus, let me be honest in saying that my depth of knowledge in Weird Fiction is pretty topical in comparison to this crowd.

audient-void-after-part-3
Myself, William F. Nolan, and Dan Clore

But, the highlight of the evening was spending a quality 30 minutes, possibly more, talking one-on-one with William F. Nolan, of Logan’s Run fame. He was eager to talk about all kinds of experiences, from poetry, fiction, to screenwriting and navigating the film industry. And he was just really kind and genuine. I’m really honored that I had the opportunity to chat with him.

Other notable guests included Dan Clore, Jason Brock, and Adam Bolivar, the last of whom introduced me to his handmade H.P Lovecraft marionette. Undeniably weird, but also incredibly cute and charming, as he walked H.P. over and allowed me to shake his hand, and agreed to pose for a photograph.20161022_234936

It was an odd, pretty surreal evening that was topped off with a Manhattan that threatened to knock me out cold from the fumes alone. Thanks a lot, Obadaiah!

After a shaky morning after, we played DnD until 11pm with a new group. It was awesome, and I’m really excited for this campaign! In case you’re wondering, I play a Halfling Rogue, named Renna. She’s charming and diplomatic as fuck, and pretty fierce with a spindle-disc. At least, so far.

Anyway, now that you’ve had a recap of my weekend, let’s take a look at what’s ahead!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Library of Souls book review
  • Write 750 words of FtQ

I think that’s fair. I’d like to get another book review in, if possible, but I’ve got my reading stacked pretty high, plus upping the word count goal, and Halloween festivities this weekend. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

And after that comes NaNo! Yikes!!

Until next time Blogland!

 

BZ

Take the Advice You’re Given

So, this might come as a shock to some of you, but I’m pretty hard on myself. I know over the last two months I’ve come across as patient, honest, and forgiving when it comes to my constantly slipping achievements.

Except I’m not any of those things.

I can say all the right things, tell everyone how it’s just not reasonable to expect so much of myself, and my brain knows it’s all right. All true. But, that doesn’t keep the disappointment and irritation out of my heart. I’m angry. Frustrated. I have high standards for myself and when I fall short, there’s no forgiveness.

It’s buck up and do better.

And I’ve failed at that too.

I’ve been battling some major anxiety over how rusty I am when it comes to writing fiction. I know the only way to get better is to write more. The only way to shake off the rust is to get moving. But, I’m stuck. It’s like I’m asphyxiating every time I look at Scrivener.

And I’m really pissed off about it.

But, I’ve made an attempt to talk to others about it, since it seems that I am out of my element. My own counsel has brooked no progress. It’s time to talk to someone. Luckily I have a really amazing support system.

My husband, who’s just as driven as I am, though we have very different methods in chasing our dreams, said that I need to get writing. Even if it’s just a sentence at a time. He’s not wrong. When it comes to my writing he knows it’s all I’ve ever truly wanted to do, and he knows that every day that passes without words added to the page is killing me. So, he’s harsh in his delivery. Suck it up and sit down to write. Yeah, he’s not wrong.

But I’ve been telling myself that for months.

A friend of mine had some insight that really helped me though. He said, “How long have you been done with school?” I finished school August 9th. “It’s been two months.” He stared at me. “That’s not even a summer break!” I shrugged it off. I haven’t had a summer break in over two years, since I took classes each summer term. “If you’re not writing again by January 9th, be concerned,” he said.

When I asked why he basically spoke some logic at me. I’ve been giving 150% for the last two years. 45+ hour work weeks, school full time, reading constantly, and editing for The Audient Void. I even managed to do some writing projects, and graduate Magna Cum Laude. I’ve been hurtling through space and time, and suddenly I’ve stopped.

The adjustment is awful, but his point is that I need to establish a new normal. One where I sleep again. One where two venti iced coffees isn’t required to make me feel “normal”. One where sitting on the sofa reading isn’t a chore. And where playing video games isn’t a sin.

When Trevor and I spoke about my anxiety and frustration again, after absorbing my friend’s advice, it seemed Trevor had been thinking about it too.

He told me that my energy isn’t the same as his. It’s not this driven, powerhouse of determination and sheer will. I balked at first, but he continued. My energy, he said, is creative. It’s a well that has to be full and siphoned off of. And when it’s ready, I’ll crave it again. I’ll crave sitting for hours in front of screen, chasing the blinking cursor that promises something new with each letter.

And I knew he was right. Because I’ve felt the hints of it already. When I worked on my Novel Announcement for NaNo, I felt really excited for this book for the first time in years. Instead of just trepidation. Instead of intimidation. Instead of fear. When I listen to songs and hear characters in them, instead of just words.

It’s coming back to me. Trickle by trickle. Remember the Leaky Faucet Theory? Well, I’ve used every lost drop of myself these last two years. And to much success. I’m proud of my achievements, but it’s time I took the advice of the people around me. The people who are watching from the outside, and are starting to see the cracks in the mud. I’m drying out, and punishing myself for not writing will only make things worse.

So, I’m going to work really hard to ease up on myself. I’m still going to work on From the Quorum, and I can already feel the wheels turning in preparation for NaNo. There’s been a change in me, and it feels right. Here’s hoping it’s a flood gate. But, I will not hate myself for falling short. As I tried to reason to myself, writing is a muscle. Mine has atrophied over the last two years. It’s going to take time to get back to my dizzying pace from before school. I was writing 2k+ a day, sometimes five days a week! That’s insane for someone with a full time job. And I can’t get back to that overnight.

It’s time to take the advice around me, and treat myself with respect, patience, and understanding. I’ve worked hard, and if I hope to continue to do so, I need to take a breather without fear of retribution from anyone. Let alone myself.

Anyway, I really wanted to express my thanks to the people who keep me grounded in reality, but offer me solutions for chasing my dreams. You’re awesome. Thank you for always helping me, even when you don’t think you do. And because of you I’m really going to try and be kinder to myself. I’m not perfect, and I’ll probably have bad days, but I hear you.

I’m listening.

 

BZ