Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #20

Hey Bloggos,

Last Week

  • Enjoy a week off

Weekly Word Count: 0

Last week felt long. Like, really really long. I had so. much. time! I played video games, went to see Snow Patrol, cleaned the house, played more video games. We beat Overcooked and started on the DLC. I tried to catch up on my reading. It was nice, but I was also very restless. I didn’t feel like I ever really relaxed, until I crossed over the Cascades and started my hiking weekend.

We started with a breakfast in Sisters then drove through Bend and to the Newberry Volcano National Monument, where we explored a Lava Tube Cave. I’d never been in a cave before, and having just read The Luminous Dead, I was understandably nervous. Turns out, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

If you ever have the opportunity to see a cave, you absolutely should. It was an amazing experience, an all new sensation for me that has left me feeling inspired and in awe.

After that was lunch in Bend at a restaurant called Spork, where I ate Lomo Saltado and could have died with joy. We’ve made Lomo Saltado in my house a few times and it’s definitely a household favorite and comfort food. But I’ve never had “real” Lomo Saltado. Turns out, ours is pretty dang close and it’s all delicious. Then we went to Prineville to meet our friend and get settled at her place for the night. We ordered pizza and watched the new What We Do in the Shadows tv show. what we do in the shadowsWe binged all eight episodes over the weekend and I am obsessed with it. I can’t wait to share it with Trevor. If you liked the movie, I’m here to tell you that the show is even better.

The next morning was the big day: The Painted Hills! It’s something I’ve always wanted to see, a natural wonder that I honestly forgot was in Oregon. I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about my passion for geology here, but I’m a bit of a rock nerd. And this weekend my rock nerd was a kid in a candy shop!painted hills 2

It was supposed to rain, but instead it was sunny and I was a dummy in a tank top getting a sweet, sweet sunburn. But I’m not even mad. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place; I’ll take a little pain for it.

We had lunch in one of the tiniest towns I’ve ever seen, called Mitchell, where there were three cafés, a feed store, a grocery story, and one brewery. It was adorable in a very dusty, hard-working, Old West kind of way. It reminded me of home and going to the feed store with my papa. It reminded me that I do have love in my heart for the desert. It made me want to take a hiking trip back home. Maybe next spring?

And then I came home last night and had a great evening in, playing games and making food with the husbando, preparing for the week ahead. Overall, it was a relaxing and productive week in its own right. I’m glad I made myself take a break.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start a new short story
  • Read Madhu’s pages
  • Finish reading Beneath a Sugar Sky

I’m going into this week feeling a little lost at sea. I’m not sure where to start, but I do feel like I have the energy and focus to work on something. It’s just a matter of figuring out what that project will be. I have a couple ideas, but we’ll see where the week goes.

Madhu and I exchanged pages before I left for the weekend. She’s already read mine and replied, and since we have a Walk ‘n’ Talk™ scheduled for Thursday afternoon I need to read hers soon. beneath a sugar sky

I’m on track to finish Beneath a Sugar Sky either tonight or tomorrow and would really like to read All Systems Red before the week is out as well. We’ll see how that goes depending on how much time I spend writing this week. Since I want to revisit Exodus: Descent for revisions this summer, reading all these novellas will prove quite useful.

Submissions are still out. I’m beginning to hear the Jeopardy! theme whenever I have a quiet moment and the dread starts to build. I should hear back on at least one story either this week or the next. Fingers crossed.

I don’t have any book reviews primed for this week, mainly because I’m reading novellas and short stories right now. But, I do want to share my thoughts on the drafting process of this book, so might do a sort of recap talking about the experience. Either way, I’ll come back later this week with something to share.

Until then, Bloggarts,

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #19

It’s Monday, Blogland. And I really feel it today. The weekend was less restorative than it was just… catatonic. And now the sunshine is gone, replaced with cooler temps and clouds. All I want to do is sleep and play Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Is that so wrong?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi rough draft

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • YES. AFFIRMATIVE. INDEED. YARP. YAAAAAAS. YEP. BOY-HOWDY. I’VE BEEN SCREAMING (oops, still screaming) about it all weekend.

Weekly Word Count: 11,360

Inspired by the Write Here, Write Now event a couple weekends ago, on Friday I hosted a Write-a-thon in the Writer’s Discord I’m a member of. I wanted to finish the book on Friday, plus I’d set a goal — a deadline — and I was determined to keep it. With only a couple chapters to go, I figured that I might be able to eke it out.

I was correct. I wrote 5400+ words on Friday, which more or less melted my brain. I have no idea if what I wrote made sense, but it seemed to at the time. The last few chapters came very differently than the rest of the book, which will probably be a whole post of its own once I’ve sat on the realization that I finished my book’s rough draft a bit longer. There are thoughts swirling in my brain about the experience of writing this book over the last six months and I’ll want to write them all down somewhere. Might as well be here.

I also started another 500 word story for my patrons, but I’m not sold on it yet. It’s a rehashing of a very old scene I wrote for an exercise in a Creative Writing class. I can’t find the original scene, but I remember it pretty clearly. I want to readdress some of the themes and see if I can’t do it better now, eight years or so later.

I didn’t read much last week because I was writing so much. So that’s a bummer. But, I spent the weekend bingeing Assassin’s Creed, playing Overcooked with the husbando, and generally avoiding the world. Due to Mother’s Day festivities on Saturday, I did not go on my hike to Cape Falcon, which was disappointing. After Friday’s marathon I could have really used the peace and solitude of the coast.

What’s Next?

  • Enjoy a week off

I’m taking a mini-vacation y’all. No writing this week. No looking at the book, no deciding what to write next. I need to air out my brain and take a well deserved break. Tomorrow night is the Snow Patrol concert, Wednesday is the Willamette Writer’s meeting, Thursday night is Trivia, and then Friday-Sunday I’m out of town on a hiking trip!

I’ll be busy, but not with writing, which will make for a refreshing change of pace. Hopefully it’ll have me back in action for the week after when it’s time to write some short stories!

I’m still (slowly) making my way through the Wayward Children series, and have The Murderbot Diaries queued up for after that. I’m still reading short stories. I’m still doing all of these things, just letting my brain take a bit of a nap before we move on to the next project. And since I don’t have any reviews to share, and no writing news either, I probably won’t be back on the blog this week.

Next week you can expect lots of pictures from the hikes, and maybe even a few from the concert tomorrow.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

For a Midwest Minute

I mentioned in my weekly update that the trip to Cincinnati was… interesting to say the least. Now, I want to be honest. The Husbando and I had scoped out Cincinnati as a potential contender for relocation. We looked into best places to live for the cost and looked at the housing market and were pretty impressed. The next step was to visit and see how the city felt. Because on paper, things looked promising.

Well, I can tell you, after four days spent in the city, promising is not the word for it. Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a bunch, let me caveat this with the following: These are my feelings about Cincinnati. Mine. And mine alone. I know that I visited in early March, when winter still has much of the country in its frigid, deathly grip. This was intentional; I wanted to see the city at its worst, because if I still liked it, then I knew it would only get better with nicer weather. I stacked the odds against Cincinnati on purpose and kept that decision in my mind as we explored the city.

Guys. It didn’t do well.

There’s a lot to like in Cincinnati, don’t mistake me. The Newport Aquarium was a ton of fun and really well maintained. The Zoo was amazeballs (and yes, we got to see Fiona!), and the Cincinnati Museum Center is absolutely gorgeous. At all three locations there were field trips out for a day of learning and exploration and that was really cool to see.SAve Ferris

Cincinnati also has a thriving craft beer scene. We had low expectations for this, since Oregon is sort of the Mecca for the US Craft Beer movement (seriously, throw a rock in Salem and you’ll hit a brewery or taphouse). The beers didn’t need to be better than home, just on par, which they definitely were. Also, oddly enough, sour beers seem to be very popular in Cincinnati, of which I had zero complaints. I love a good Berliner Weisse, and Nine Giants’ Save Ferris was probably the best I’ve ever had.

We also went to a crazy store called Jungle Jim’s, which my husband described as, “an international themed fever dream where you can buy some fresh fish, giant paella pan, scotch, and durian fruit in the same store while passing by a talking Campbell’s soup can that haunts you until you die.” We followed that up with a visit to the biggest fucking antique mall I have ever been blessed to visit. I bought an unconventional souvenir for my office and have zero regrets.

campbells nightmare
Talk about nightmare fuel…

The Findlay Market was cool, though with it being the off season it was just a fraction of how awesome it undoubtedly is in the spring and summer. That being said, we have farmer’s markets here in Salem, and Portland has a huge one. And Pike’s is only four hours away in Seattle.

And ultimately, that’s what it kept coming down to. Yeah, Cincinnati has cool stuff, but not anything that can’t be equalled by the Pacific Northwest.  So, when the cities are neck and neck, what breaks the tie?

People.

Now, PNW folks are notorious for being ridiculously, obnoxiously, frustratingly nice. They will stop six lanes of traffic to let you jaywalk. They will stop an entire interstate to save a lost dog. “Please” and “Thank You” have nearly lost all meaning because we all say them so automatically that half the time I can’t remember if I even said it. Sort of like flushing the toilet or locking the door, but for politeness.

I thought I was sick of it. I thought I was fed up with false kindness and the West Coast notion that customer service must infiltrate every aspect of your life. I thought I was done with it. And then I went to a bar in Cincinnati.

burgoo
WTF is Burgoo and why was it so good?

Across the city, from restaurants to breweries to fast food chains to grocery stores, gruff and efficient is the rule. They don’t want to chit-chat, which I am fine with, but they also don’t want to smile or tell you to have a nice day or thank you for coming in. They do not want to acknowledge you beyond, “What do you want?” and “Do you want to start a tab?” or “Receipt?”

It shocked me. It disgruntled me. I felt immediately defensive and closed off. For the first time, I wasn’t so sure we’d be able to make friends in Cincinnati and I wasn’t sure that I would even want to. I already have great friends, and almost all of them live in Salem (Bolt, I’m looking at you, so hurry it up already and move back!).

Ultimately, nothing about Cincinnati made me want to dig up the roots we’ve grown here in Oregon and start all over again. Which we agreed on after only two days, which left us with another two days to explore and just enjoy the vacation!

Now, of course, not every person we interacted with was so closed off and unfriendly. There was a fabulous server at the Moerlein Lager House named Mikey, and another great server at 50 West Brewing (I can’t remember her name, sorry!). And the sweet guy at the counter of the Taste of Belgium stand at Findlay Market that forgot to give Trev his coffee and was amazed at how unworried we were about it. But the majority was… brusque to say the least.

We spent a day in Kentucky, meeting up with my husband’s aunt, which was a blast, and then we went to the Kentucky Derby Museum for a walk down memory lane for me, and a first time visit for Trevor. I was pretty emotional the whole time. The last time I was there was in 1995 when I went on a cross country road trip with my grandparents. My papa has since passed away, and though I don’t have many distinct memories from our visit to Churchill Downs there were just enough to keep my eyes moist at sharing this visit with my husband, whom my papa never got the chance to meet.

And while the people in Kentucky are beyond nice, come Wednesday, Trev and I were so so so ready to be home. So of course, that’s the day the Boeing 737 Max’s were grounded. And of course, that was the plane we were supposed to be on. What was supposed to be an arrival time of 10pm in Portland turned into 11am, with us spending 22 hours either in an airport or on a plane. My advice? Skip Chicago Midway if you can, and DEFINITELY don’t spend the night there. The only silver-lining on that was the hilarious native Chicagoan that sat at the bar drinking a Budweiser while we ate breakfast and shot the shit with us. He was hilarious and a delight. There will be inside jokes involving that guy for the rest of our lives, I’m sure.

And then we were home and I snuggled my dog and vowed not to leave the PNW for as long as I possibly could. Which is roughly a year since Southwest gave us two $100 vouchers for the whole 737 snafu.

So, the trip served its purpose. We went to Cincinnati to see if we’d want to live there. We very quickly decided no, and got a chance to relax and just enjoy ourselves for a few days. Other than the awful travel on the way home, I’d say that was worth it. Plus, I wouldn’t have found Melvin if we hadn’t gone!

Melvin.jpg
There is no Tavern, and Moby Dick was published in 1851, but the inaccuracies only make me love it more. Hence the name, Melvin. 

Knowing that a cross-country move isn’t in our future has reinvigorated our enthusiasm for the house we do have. Old projects are resurfacing, especially as the weather improves, and I hope we’ll actually have our entertainment center built up by the summer and my built-in desk finished by fall.

Home is where you make it, after all. So maybe it’s high time we showed this house some love and focused on turning it into our home. This trip really helped me appreciate where I am and what I have, and the city I share with so many people I care about. It led to a reaffirmation for both of us, and I couldn’t be happier with that.

Because, let’s face it. I’m a West Coast kid, through and through. And that’s how it’s going to stay. At least for the foreseeable future.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #10

Blogland. I have so much to share with you about Cincinnati that it requires a blog post unto itself. Keep an eye out for that sometime this weekend. In the meantime, there’s work to discuss.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write Tavi Chapter 14
  • Have a great time on vacation!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write Tavi Chapter 14
    • No. But I got a good chunk of quality work in before we left town.
  • Have a great time on vacation
    • Yes? It was a mixed-bag thanks to a migraine the first two days and a doozy of a trek home, but I still managed to relax and have some fun.

Weekly Word Count: 3,566

Last week did see a return to some productive writing sessions. I’d hoped to get even more writing and reading done on vacation, and while no writing happened, I did start and finish The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society between plane rides. Be on the lookout for that review, either this weekend or early next week.Paperback The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book

This trip also brought a halt to my Short Story a Day challenge, so I’ll be reading two a day for the next five days in order to catch up. Follow me on twitter for real time updates and micro-reviews, or check the What I’m Reading page for an updated list.

I maybe started a new short story. Maybe. I mean, I did, but I haven’t finished it and I’m not planning to any time soon. It’s nice to know I have another one in the wings though, for when Tavi is done. Which should still be sometime in May.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi chapter 14
  • Catch up on short stories

This week is basically over, so I need to keep the goals simple. So, lots of reading and a bit of writing are it for me as I try to get back into the swing of things. I’ve got my next book queued up, Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night. I am very excited because this book has received a ton of positive press from authors I love, but I have almost zero knowledge about it or the author. Another adventure awaits!

I’ll be pretty active around here this weekend and next week, so expect to hear from me.

Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #9

Blogland,

Welcome to the first week of March! Spring is trying to make itself known, with blue skies and sunshine galore, but there’s more snow on the horizon. Hopefully it won’t impact our travel plans, because we go on vacation this weekend!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog postslies sleeping
  • Finish Tavi chapter 13
  • Finish reading Lies Sleeping

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Three posts total.
  • Finish Tavi chapter 13
    • Yes!!! I had a bit of a breakthrough this weekend which led to lots of words in a short amount of time.
  • Finish reading Lies Sleeping

Weekly Word Count: 3,389

Last week started out on the totally wrong foot. Burnout from Starbucks coupled with a head cold had me grumpy, tired, and beyond frustrated with pretty much everything. I had to leave work early on Thursday I felt so poorly, and the four hour nap I took really helped.

This is the part where I give my husband a shout out, because he made sure to keep me medicated, hydrated, and fed while I was a mewling snot monster. I think he’s directly responsible for my quick recovery. So thanks, Babe!

I rode out the last few days of February with little motivation and a lot of Anthem. But once March hit I knew it was time to kick things back into gear. As discussed in the February Recap, I’ve set some rules for myself in the month of March: read a short story each day and write at least 500 words a day on my novel. So far, that’s working really well.

Granted, it’s only the fourth. But hey, I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

awkward but cool.jpg
Cool kid, but also awkward as hell.

Also, Audient Void Publishing had a little get together to celebrate and sign copies for the release of Half in Light, Half in Shadow by David Barker. You can get your signed limited edition copy today!

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write Tavi Chapter 14
  • Have a great time on vacation!

Really, as long as I keep up my word count and read a short story a day, I’ll be happy with this coming week. Vacation always changes priorities a bit, but I’m hoping to maximize the plane time for writing and reading. And if it means I get up a little earlier than Trev to snag a continental breakfast and do some writing, so be it.

fiona
Now two years old, she’s not so little anymore!

We’re going to Cincinnati, which I know seems strange, but from all reports it’s an up and coming city with a blossoming food and beer scene. And it’s somewhere we’ve never been before, so we’re excited to see it for ourselves.

And Fiona the hippo! Duh!

Honestly, at this point, I’m just looking forward to some free time spent with the hubs doing what we do best: eating and drinking. We’re intentionally keeping this trip itinerary free; we’ll go see and do whatever strikes us at the time and explore freely. I can’t wait.

Barring any writing related excitement, the blog might be pretty quiet this week. I still have the February Reading Round Up scheduled for Friday, and I will make time in Cincinnati to post the usual goals summary on Monday.

So until then, Blog-buddies!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 39

Blogland!

It’s Monday, and man does it feel like it. Between 13 hours of travel on Saturday and working two jobs again as of today, I am exhausted, so let’s get this show on the road!

Last Week

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

How’d I Do?

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

Yeah. This vacation was insane! And exhausting. There was so much to see, and there’s still so much left that we hope to return to Bavaria in a few years, hopefully at Christmastime.

I could go on and on and on about how delicious every meal was, or how picturesque and idyllic the alps are, but I’ll let the photos do the work for once.

What’s next? 

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

I think this is a good start to the month. I do want to keep writing, but nothing taxing and without any strict goals. This will be a good month to sprint for fun with my longfic or work on that tumblr prompt. Gotta get that sprinting muscle ready for November!

As always, reading is still a priority, with science fiction short stories and urban fantasy novels being the focus this month. I’ve also been listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, which has really eaten into my audiobook time, but it’s amazeballs so I have no regrets.

I actually have two full days off this week, and have a bit more free time than I really expected to, so I’m looking forward to getting some quality work done. Right at this moment I am so tired that this list looks awful ambitious, but hopefully I can manage some sleep tonight and wake up ready to take on my goals with renewed vigor.

I’m not one hundred percent what else I’ll have to share this week, but I’m sure something will come up.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

The Recap – September 2018

Bloggos,

Everyone call Green Day because September is ending! I’m back from vacation and pleased to find Oregon well on its way into fall. The leaves are falling, pumpkins beg for carving, and the weather is wonderfully dreary. A very nice change from Munich’s humidity and warmth. There’s a lot from my vacation to talk about, but I’ll get into that more tomorrow. Today, we talk about:

September Goals

  • Tumblr prompts
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions

How’d I Do?

  • Tumblr prompts
    • No… I didn’t get that research done that I needed to, so this prompt moves on into October.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • Hahaha nope! I wrote like… a paragraph?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. I read four titles this month, with two book reviews, and a handful of short stories.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes! I received another rejection while on vacation and just sent The Cost of Rain off to the next place.

Total Word Count: 265

Well. I knew September would be incredibly unproductive, I just didn’t imagine it would be that bad. Like… zoinks Scoob, that’s really bad. But, I planned for this. I planned for a lax September and an editing/research heavy October because November is National Novel Writing Month! I won last year, and I aim on doing it again. The difference this time is that this project isn’t fanfic, the plot isn’t preordained and the world doesn’t already exist (well, it’s an Urban Fantasy, so yes, actually it does, but you get my point!). This year it’s going to take a lot more work to get to that 50k mark, and then a few more months of dedicated effort to finish it off.

But I’m excited for this story. I’m ready to do the research and spend the time outlining so that I at least have some idea of where the hell this novel is headed. That way, when I get stuck, I have some kind of map to help guide me out.

October Goals

  • Tumblr prompt
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

This is going to be an ambitious month. July and August were busy months with very high output for me, but September saw a decrease in all reading and writing. I want to spend October really revving back up so I can put my best writerly foot forward for NaNoWriMo and to get back into the swing of things.

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m going to shelve The Mechanical. I like it, but it’s a slow book, with a very atmospheric narrative style that is the exact opposite of what I need to read right now. So, instead, I’m going to focus on Urban Fantasy novels for the month of October, starting with Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks.

I’m always open to recommendations, so please let me know if there’s any Urban Fantasy out there that I absolutely must read! I’ve read all the Dresden Files books, all but the most recent Peter Grant book (it’s on hold at the library), and have the first books of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye novels, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, and Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series on hold at the library.

Please tell me what I’m missing!

So that’s October! Probably another low word count month as I edit, research, and read my butt off in preparation for NaNoWriMo! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about last week and share a bunch of pictures from my vacation in Germany, and then it’s back to the grindstone. Don’t expect any book reviews this week, since I’ll be starting fresh this month with a new book, but hopefully I can get a few out later this month.

Talk soon, Blogland.

 

BZ