Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #2

Bloggos,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! The husband and I have been binge-watching Letterkenny on Hulu and laughing way too hard because of it. That show has no business being as good as it is, and I cannot get enough of it.

wayne baby
Yes, that’s a grown man imitating a baby to illustrate how dumb they are. You seriously need to watch Letterkenny.

Aside from an unusual uptick in my television time, I also had a change in my schedule this week. After years of having Sundays off, I have now switched to Saturdays off and working Sundays at the library. I think it was a really good change for me, and it actually helped me achieve a better work/life balance. Such as it is. I look forward to adjusting to a little extra me time.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
    • Holy smokes yes! More on this in a bit.
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related
    • Yes! More than I anticipated, really.

Weekly Word Count: 7,693

Holy crow. That was a lot of writing last week. I don’t even necessarily feel like it either. I just sat down and did a couple sprints, and the words just kept coming, especially in the case of my novel. I crossed the 30k word mark on the manuscript and I’m still so excited about the project. It’s the first novel I’ve ever written that I truly felt led by the characters. Normally I have some vague idea or conceptualization fo the plot when I write a book or short story, but this time Tavi has control and I just go where she does.

For instance, last night she careened headfirst into feelings I didn’t think she was ready to handle, and we had a good cry about it. So that was fun, and I’m not being sarcastic. I love it when a project runs away with me. It’s exhilarating!

I also wrote a Santa Sarita related tumblr prompt, made a new playlist for the longfic I”m working on, and wrote over one thousand words on the newest chapter of Sanctuary.  It was a wildly successful writing week and I feel amazing because of it!

amy santiago.gif
Amy Santiago is my spirit animal.

I’m also awarding myself bonus points because I finished reading Zen in the Art of Writing. I’ll admit now that I wasn’t blown away by it. I enjoy Bradbury as much as the next guy, and maybe even a little bit more, but ultimately didn’t find too many revelations in the pages of this book. Either that means I’m learning my craft well and the nuggets of gold information are fewer and farther between, or it just wasn’t that great of a book. Guess I’ll find out with the next writing book on my docket: The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman.

I have unintentionally set up a lot of nonfiction books in my TBR pile for January. It wasn’t my goal to read/listen to a lot of writing and science books, but here we are. I’m still making slow progress on Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, and even though it’s written with the layman in mind, I am still woefully unprepared to understand this book. But, I’m trying. And Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s voice makes the audiobook bearable.

I also sent off an application for a scholarship to a writing conference this summer, and was notified that they received my app. I won’t hear back until late May, but at least that’s another thing done.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3,500 words on Tavi
  • Work on Santa Sarita

Last week was such a success, I’m hesitant to change the formula. I plan on finishing the Tyson audiobook this week, and hopefully will make a dent on Knight’s Shadow as well, though with such writing productivity it only tracks that the reading slows down. I’ve got a lot of writing books queued up the first part of the year, with a few standout novels sprinkled in.

I’m on track to meet my writing goal for the month, which feels great. I just have to keep this momentum going. Which isn’t always an easy thing, especially with some very long-awaited video game releases on the horizon.

Submissions continue to continue. I’m being patient. I repeat to myself, endlessly. I think I have a new short story in the wings, but it isn’t ready to write just yet. The nonfiction I’ve been listening to is actually related to this story idea I had last year, but I didn’t choose to read them as research or anything, it’s just where my interests led me. Which means this story is percolating and slowly forming into something like clay I can form into something like a story. But not right now. Tavi comes first, at least until the rough draft is done.

Which, let’s be honest, is probably how much time this story will need to climb out of the muck of my mind and proclaim itself writeable. Funny how these things work themselves out.

So, that’s the week. Write, write some more, and when I can’t write anymore, read about writing. Or maybe science. Whichever calls the loudest.

Until later Blogland,

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #1

Bloggos,

I hope you all had an awesome first week of the year! I know it felt incredibly long to me and especially exhausting. I spent yesterday doing some shopping and meeting friends at the local board game cafe to play some really interesting new table top games. I wanted my weekend to be focused on turning my brain off and recharging for the week ahead.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Although that’s easy to do during the first week of the year. There’s a lot to talk about.
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whales
    • Yes!
  • Write 1k on Tavi
    • Yes! I wasn’t sure this would happen, but I ended up writing about 1300 words and finishing chapter 8!
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita
    • Yes… and no. So, it turns out, I had already done some brainstorming and outlining back in October. I have no memory of this, but that’s cool since I no longer agree with the route I had planned. I’ve made some new plans, but nothing concrete. But, I did do a tiny bit of writing on this so I’m counting it a win!

Weekly Word Count: 1,477

The first week of the year is always a busy one on the blog. Goals Summaries, Monthly Recaps, and the blog overhaul and Yearly Review. Lots of writing about writing, collating the stats and accomplishments of the year and analyzing my failures and successes so I can make the most of the year to come. Honestly? It’s one of my favorite times of year, when I can really dig deep into my process and figure out how to tweak for even more efficiency and output. It’s like giving my mind a tune-up!

When it came to listening to Spying on Whales, I didn’t know if I’d really be able to finish it. The book is great, and Pyenson’s passion really shines through the narrative and his narration, but I am not great at reading/listening to nonfiction. Even something as interesting to me as the past, present, and future of whales (I freaking LOVE whales) still had me zoning out for large chunks of text. I frequently had to rewind a segment and figure out where my brain had turned to white noise.

But, I still finished it last night, and really enjoyed it. I don’t think the problem was the book, but more my short attention span. If you like nonfiction, or want a broad overview of the history and lives of whales, I highly recommend it!

I jumped back into writing my urban fantasy novel this week after ignoring its existence during the whole month of December. As expected it, it was sort of slow going. It’d been long enough away from the text that I didn’t really remember where I’d left and felt pretty distant from my narrator’s voice. So, I spent a lot of my “writing” time reading the manuscript over from the beginning. writing gif

Now, that’s always dangerous with a rough draft because it makes me want to edit. I see the repetitious sentences and the clunky passages and I cringe. But, that’s not the point of this readthrough. I needed to get back in Tavi’s head, so I could tag along with her on the crazy journey of this utterly pantster novel. And it worked! In fact, it not only worked, but got me excited about this project again. With rough drafts I’m always terrified that I’m going to hate them when I read them again for the first time. I fear that I’ll read the first few pages and wonder what the hell I was thinking, writing this garbage? But Tavi really surprised me! I think it’s really good. In a few places I even managed to forget I wrote it, I was so enthralled with the dialogue and the narrator’s voice.

So, that’s good.

Santa Sarita is percolating. The characters are taking up space in brain again and I’m almost ready to sit down and really hash out some words on this fic. I think it’s going to be much different than I originally planned, and that’s probably for the best. There’s a reason my first attempt at this story flopped, after all. In the meantime I’m going to write some small tumblr prompts and get used to writing these two once again.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related

This looks really thin to me, but jumping up from 1,000 words to 3,000 is going to take some serious effort. And even then, I’ll still be about four thousand words behind my monthly writing goal. Which is okay. The point is just to write consistently again after so much time off. The words will come.

knight's shadowI have a backlog of tumblr prompts to work on, the majority of them for Santa Sarita, so that should be an easy one to knock out this week. I also have a nebulous idea for a blog post, but we’ll see if I go with that or something else I’ve been sitting on for a while. Don’t expect a book review this week. Sadly I have zero interest in writing reviews for nonfiction, and my time with Knight’s Shadow has been really limited lately. Honestly, all of my time is limited lately, so if I’m going to make my writing goals expect my reading to slow down.

Thank goodness for audiobooks! I just downloaded Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and though it’s pretty far over my head, I figure I’ll still know more about astrophysics by the end than I do now.

In other news, I received my rejection letter from Oregon Literary Arts. I was not a recipient of a fellowship this year, but better luck next time! I also received a rejection on my horror short story Lifelike last night, and it’s already off and onto the next magazine. Getting two rejections in one week feels bad and it feels kinda good. It means I’m working hard and eventually one of these emails will be an acceptance!

Talk to you soon, Blogland!

 

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

 

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 52

Can you believe it, Blogland? 2018 has come and gone, and that means there’s a lot to talk about. However, this post isn’t meant for that. I have to talk about the last week of 2018 before I can start making plans for 2019!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish any last minute reading
  • Write something

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Nothing too important or dense, but I made an effort to show up!
  • Finish any last minute reading
    • Yes! I finished reading Dragon Age: The World of Thedas vol. 1, just like I planned!
  • Write something
    • Yes! I wrote a little oneshot for a tumblr prompt! Hurray!

Weekly Word Count: 592

This week was really just a matter of tying up loose ends. I finished my lingering tumblr prompts, caught up on some reading, and made an effort to relax. I also picked up some stray hours between both jobs, so I worked a little more than I originally intended.

The really big question mark is, what the hell comes next?

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really nailed down my yearly goals for 2019, which means I don’t have any idea of what my monthly goals should be, which in turn means… I have NO CLUE what I’m supposed to do this week. I’m gonna fake it ’til I make it!

I spent December decompressing my the marathon of November’s Nanowrimo. I won’t lie, I’d followed my story pretty much blindly until it took me to a scene I didn’t know how to get out of. I’d started to think I’d written myself into a corner, and then on my drive home last night my brain decided to notify me that we could proceed with the novel at my earliest convenience.

So, that’s nice.

For now I’m really marinating on what really worked in 2018. What were my successes? What were my obstacles? How can I learn from each of these in order to make the most out of 2019?

Tune in on Tuesday to find out, and for the traditional blog renovation!

 

BZ

Wrimo Wrap Up 2018

Hiya, Blogland!

I wanted to take this chance to talk a bit about how my NaNo season went this year. Now, a lot of this will probably end up in my monthly recap for November, but I’ll try to go into a bit more depth here than I do there.

I was really straightforward with my goal for Nano this year: 800 words each day, or 24k words for the month. Now, if I’m being honest, 800 words isn’t all that much to me. When I do sit down to write I almost always pump out at least 1000 words, and usually closer to 2k before calling it quits for the session. In a free day, with proper motivation and focus, I can write 5k before my brain liquifies and dribbles out my ears.

So, 800 felt really doable. Which was the point. I work over 40 hours a week most weeks, and this is the first major writing project I’ve undertaken since working both jobs again. I went from 25 hours or less at work, to 40+. That’s a big change in routine, and I needed to be realistic with myself when setting the goals for Nano if I wanted to do well.

Still, 800/day nagged at me. Was it too easy? Too doable? Should I have stretched for 1000 words a day? Would that have been the better challenge? Truthfully, I don’t know. I think I could have done it, but I would be even more exhausted than I am now, and my recoup time would leak even further into December. I don’t want that. I want to keep working on this novel into the new year, and hopefully finish it by March.

And, well, I’m off to a great start because I made my goal for the month. I wrote 25,069 words in the month of November! It was a struggle and there were a lot of days where I didn’t write at all. Sundays were my most productive days, and that’s directly thanks to the local Write-Ins my Nano Chapter hosted each weekend. I also need to give a shout out to my writer’s discord community, for all the impromptu sprint sessions and encouragement they provided this month. They were a huge help and motivator.

Average words a day: 835
Total Manuscript word count: 25,488

No automatic alt text available.

Here’s the thing about NaNo that so many people seem to miss: it isn’t really about the word count. Yeah, crossing the 50k threshold is one hell of an adrenaline rush, and it’s feels beyond amazing to know you could write so much in so little time. But, it doesn’t matter how many words you vow to write. It only matters that you write them.

National Novel Writing Month is about making time for your writing. It’s about establishing a writing habit and working out that writing muscle. Because it is a muscle. The more often you write, the easier it is to continue to be consistent and productive. If you write in spurts and starts it’s harder to get back into the swing of things and feel like the work you’re producing is actually worth a damn.

I think that’s my one complaint about NaNo. A lot of writers are willing to sacrifice the quality of their writing in order to log the sheer quantity that the terms of the traditional challenge demand. One Wrimo (Nanowrimo participant) confessed that when she’s sprinting, she doesn’t use punctuation. I was floored. How could that even be possible? How could you go back and read it, how could you edit it into what you’d originally intended?

And then she admitted, “I always mean to edit, but I usually never make it back to the novel. I move on to the next one.”

During National Novel Writing Month, the words are king. You are advised never to edit, not even if you decide to change your word choice. Just strikethrough the one you don’t want to use and write in the new one. Every word counts, don’t cut ANYTHING!

But I can’t do that. It’s why my sprints are so comparatively slow. 300-500 words in 15 minutes, maybe just over 600 if it’s a 20 minute sprint. And I think that’s good. But others pound out over 1000 words! It’s mind boggling.

I’d rather write to my usual quality than hoard words on the page like a dragon hoards gold. Nano for me is as much a celebration as it is a challenge. It’s a time for writers to come together and cheer on one another as we all work toward whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves.

And that’s exactly how my month went. Celebrating the love of storytelling that brings us all together and encouraging each other through the struggles of writerdom. And despite the stress of the challenge and the looming holidays, I freaking love it.

If you participated in Nano this year, I hope you enjoyed yourself, and are proud of all the hard work you did to reach your writing goals.

I’ll be back soon with the monthly recap, so keep an eye out for that!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 47

Oh, Blogland. How does November seem to fly by with ever increasing speed? How has Thanksgiving come and gone already? How am I supposed to get anything done if the whole world just keeps zipping past me?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Barely. And let’s be honest, there wasn’t much substance there. But, that’s how I felt this week, relatively substance-less.
  • Read Audient Void submissions
    • …No…
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
    • No. And I finally bit the bullet and moved this book to my “Abandoned” bookshelf on goodreads. It just didn’t grab my attention enough to compete with Nanowrimo and Spyro. I’ve moved on to the next book in my TBR pile.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! Oh my goodness, so much yes!

Weekly Word Count: 8,682

Do you see that word count? Do ya? Holy moly do I feel like a rockstar whenever I think about it. Granted, I’m so tired from all the writing that I don’t feel quite as excited as I probably should about crossing the 24k word mark on my manuscript, but I still feel really good about my progress so far. Less than 1k to go this week to officially make my Nano goal!

With all the writing this week, it really makes sense why I fell behind on everything else. Honestly, I’m not really even mad about it. I’m bummed about the Audient Void submissions, but I should be able to knock those out this week no problem.

Also, I maybe sank more than eight hours into playing the remastered Spyro games… Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

spyro gif.gif

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Read Skywardskyward.jpg
  • WRITE!

I have a surprising amount of free time this week, which I’m really excited for. It’ll be nice to get caught up on my reading, finish up my writing for the month, and get some chores done around the house.

That’s if I can keep my Spyro time to a healthy level. Trevor bought me the Reignited Trilogy as an early birthday present, and I’ve been playing it a bit over the weekend. Thank goodness the majority of my writing was already done by the time I opened my gift!

So yeah. Writing, lots of reading, and plotting out how to wrap up this year. Can you believe it’s almost over already? We’re we just here, talking about the updates to the blog and all my dreams and hopes for 2018?

Yikes. I think I may be getting old. Time is going WAY too fast these days.

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 46

Blogland,

This past week was a weird one. I felt monumentally exhausted all week, until Sunday arrived and I found myself just bubbling over with productive energy.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • WRITE!

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line editsthe hanging tree
    • Yes! Finally. Don’t know why they took me so long, but at least now they’re done and I can continue reading the Audient Void submissions.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! Until Sunday I had only written 15 words on my nanowrimo novel, but then I went to the Write-in and joined some sprints in my writer’s discord to churn out the most words of the month yet!

Weekly Word Count: 5,943

So, the blog was pretty active this week, with three posts, including the book review and photo changes across social media. I took a big leap and had professional headshots done and I freaking LOVE them. Sorry if you follow me on multiple platforms and was inundated with my virtual squealing.

The Barker line edits are out the door and off to land on Dan the Designer’s desk, and then Obadiah’s for final approval. I look forward to seeing the final copy. I even managed to get some pleasure reading in this week as well, finally breaking the 100 page mark on A Map of Days, and finishing Monstress vol. 3. I’m hoping to finish reading the Peculiars book this week so that I can move on to the newest Sanderson novel. That one will only take me a couple of days to power through, I’m sure. I tend to inhale his books more than I do read them.Monstress vol 3

But, really, the highlight of this week was the writing. I’ll be honest, I spent the majority of this week avoiding any and all responsibility. I kept waffling on downloading the Spyro Reignited trilogy, and that indecision pretty much paralyzed me. I wanted to play so. freaking. bad. But, I know myself, and I know I won’t get anything else done if I let myself start a new game halfway through Nano.

On Friday, I think, I wrote a little tumblr prompt because I am a weak woman, and when I can’t seem to write the project I should, I write something else instead. That was 700 words-ish, and I think it was enough to remind my brain that we had work to do.

Saturday was Pre-Thanksgiving (aka friendsgiving), so there was no writing, but lots of fun and delicious food to be had.

And then Sunday I wrote over 5,200 words. I stayed up too late, but when you’re on that good of a roll, you don’t stop for something as trivial as sleep! The crazy part, to me, is that I’m already five chapters into this novel. Over 15k words. And really, I still have no idea where it’s going. This is the most panster/discovery novel I have ever written, and at first it was really stressful. Now it’s almost freeing. There are no restrictions on how characters can or should be. No rules as to what happens, no guidelines to hinder the possibilities of this book.

Which, of course, means the revision process will be a complete and utter nightmare. But who wants to think about that when I can think about how the seven Archangels interact with one another when they meet in my protagonist’s outdated kitchen?

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Audient Void submissions
  • Finish reading A Map of Days
  • WRITE!

You’d think with the Thanksgiving holiday, I’d have more free time this week. But, sadly, it’s not the case. Today I work at both jobs until 5pm, and then have my usual social engagement. Then tomorrow is another of day of both jobs until the evening. Wednesday I have a bit of free time, but it will all be devoted to prepping for Thanksgiving. Then the holiday itself, which will be busy and relatively screen free.

Black Friday I work and will finally have some free time in the afternoon. Each year my Nano chapter challenges Wrimos to write 10k words on Black Friday. I came SO close last year, crossing 9k, but I don’t plan to try for it this year. Instead, I’ll aim for 5k, since all my other goals are more or less Nano goals cut in half.

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 11.30.42 AM
The latest and greatest stats for my nano novel.

Then Saturday is another day with both jobs, and then Sunday is the final Nanowrimo Write-In. I may have to rely on the Write-In once again to hit the week’s word count goal if Friday doesn’t pan out.

So, yeah. Lots of reading this week, and LOTS of writing. We’re entering the home stretch of Nano, and I have just under 10k to go to meet my own personal goal of 24,000 words. Anything over that is just gravy on the mashed potatoes. I’m hoping that somewhere in there I’ll trip over the actual plot of this novel and know where to go in the coming months.

But that’s a discussion for another blog post.

Until later, Bloggos.

 

BZ