The Recap – February 2019

February, as per usual, came and went without hardly pausing to say hello. It’s always a mercurial month here in Oregon, bringing rain, snow, ice, and sunshine in unpredictable turns. You learn to take a coat with you everywhere pretty quick in the Pacific Northwest. And maybe gloves, if you’ve got the nice water resistant kind.

IMG_20190225_172904
The Homestead looking Wondrously Wintry.

February Goals

  • Write 8k on Tavi
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!

How’d I Do?

  • Write 8k on Tavi
    • Nope. I wrote a total of 3,628 words on the novel this month. Much less than I wanted, but I’m not wholly unhappy with it.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Sure did. The stories sat in queue for the majority of the month. I’m still waiting to hear about two of them, though That Which Illuminates Heaven received a rejection yesterday. It went out to the next market before I sat down to write this.
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
    • Narp. Not even a little bit. I think I read a little bit of Sanctuary, but that’s it.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read five titles this month, which is a little insane when I think about it. It’s the shortest month of the year, but I put the time to good use, despite my Anthem addiction.

Total Monthly Word Count: 8,273

I wrote about 4500 words for a Valentine’s Day fanfic exchange. Not pertinent to my goals, but still incredibly fun and it allowed me to flex my writing muscles a little as I explored a very complex character from the Mass Effect universe. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and I wrote it in two days, so I’m not going to feel bad about it.

Anthem continues to be absolutely addicting, but I’m almost done with the main story and so my time spent playing should slow a bit soon. Another hurdle to this month was a head cold that walloped me this week. This whole working-two-jobs thing has left me tired and vulnerable to illness and stress, which really puts a damper on my personal and writing goals.

My reading is progressing nicely, though I’m barely keeping up with the Reading Challenge goal I set for myself. This may be the first year I don’t reach my goal, but I love the challenge! Which is the whole point, so yeah.

What else happened in February? I attended an author event at the library, spent way too much time on twitter, and rollercoastered along my work weeks with more emotions than I knew what to do with. I won’t be able to do this for much longer. I need to find a better solution to the library’s unreliable hours.

But, that’s a conversation for another day. For now, let’s talk about what’s to come. Let’s talk about MARCH!

March Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Read one short story/day
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Here’s the deal. I love video games, but they are HIGHLY addictive for me. I get trapped in them for months. In the case of Dragon Age, sometimes even years. I cannot let that happen with Anthem; I have too much that needs to get done. I need to get this habit under control and set firm boundaries. Which is something I am good at. So, here goes:

I CANNOT PLAY ANTHEM UNTIL THE FOLLOWING HAS OCCURRED:

  1. I have written at least 500 words on my novel
  2. I have read one (1) short story

This is a deal I’ve made with myself. I’ve thought on it a bit and I think it’s not only doable, but necessary. This is a contract, a binding agreement between my gamer self and my writer self. The gamer self will recede to the background until the above is completed, at which point the writer self will cease guilting the gamer self and allow unshackled joy to commence.

That’s the rule. So it is written, shared on social media, and so it will be done.

Why short stories you ask? Well, I’m writing a Library Picks column about Speculative Fiction Anthologies, and I want to at least be able to recommend a story or two out of each one. Plus, I like short stories. I like writing them and reading them, and I’ve been neglecting that part of the market for too long. So I’m taking inspiration from Sam J. Miller, who is reading a short story a day in 2019, and reading a story a day in March.  I am a little worried that this might impact my reading goal for the year, but I still have some titles queued up and waiting, and with travel plans in March I should have some extra reading time.

As always, the short story submissions continue until something sticks. I had a moment at the beginning of the month where I began to feel claustrophobic about the whole process. You know, that feeling where the stress churns in your chest and you’re compelled to pace the room or fiddle with your hair or your nails just can’t seem to avoid the magnetic pull of your teeth. Or some combination of all three. That was me on February first.

wasteland babyToday I’m listening to the new Hozier album, the snow has almost all been washed away by a steady drizzle, and my head cold seems to be on its way out. I feel alert and peaceful, with a mug of hot coffee and the promise of some breakfast after this. February was a big breath that stemmed the tide of burnout, and no I’m ready to move on and get some work done.

I’m sure I’ll have some more ups and downs this month, that I’ll find something new to stress about in the weeks to come. But right now? Right now I am chill as fuck. And I’m going to ride that feeling for as long as I can.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the book review for Lies Sleeping, and then next week will have the usual Goals Summary and the Reading Round Up for February.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #8

It’s a snowy day here in Salem. Well, as snowy as the Willamette Valley ever gets. There’s little flurries in the air, and while the roads and sidewalks are clear, there’s a gentle dusting of white on all the trees and rooftops. Days like this, I really appreciate the change of pace from the Sonoran Desert, although it’s seen some snow too over the last few days.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi chapter 12
  • Write one tumblr prompt

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Sorry about that.
  • Finish Tavi chapter 12
    • Yes! More on that in a second.
  • Write one tumblr prompt
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.

Weekly Word Count: 2,567

This week went by super fast. Like, I’m sitting here trying to remember what the hell I did all week, and honestly, I have no idea… Oh yeah! Tuesday night I went the monthly Salem chapter of Willamette Writers meeting and listened to Sage Cohen speak. She’s written a few books, but I’ve only read The Productive Writer, which I really enjoyed. Her talk was good, and came with a little mini-workbook, which was fun.

But, the best part was that it led to my breakthrough with The Chapter™. If you’ve been around the blog lately, you know that I’ve been struggling with this one scene, and how this chapter just seemed listless. Well, I finally got through it, and even started the next chapter! So, HUZZAH!

I read a bit, getting about halfway through Lies Sleeping, and went to trivia on Thursday night, where my dance-off skills won my team 2nd Place, and then had a mug club event at our favorite brewery.

And then Anthem came out and all productivity ceased.

PhotoGrid_1551125391912
You could say I’m a little obsessed.

I’m having a really great time with the game so far, exploring ruins, finding lost treasures and ancient history, and shooting ALL the things!

I can already tell I’ll need to enact some rules around the game, otherwise nothing else will get done. But, I’m willing to give myself the remainder of February to get it out of my system.

In other news, all three short stories are still out, patiently awaiting news. Anthem helps me forget that I have pending submissions, which is a nice change from my constant fretting.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi chapter 13
  • Finish reading Lies Sleepinglies sleeping

That’s about 2500 words to write this week, and about 150 pages to read. I think I can do it, if I can unplug from Anthem long enough. Real talk? That’s a big if.

Regardless, I’ll be back on Friday for the Monthly Recap, so keep an eye out for that. There might be a book review if I can buckle down and focus on the Peter Grant book for a couple of days.

I have some big plans for March and I can’t wait to share them with you! But first I have to get some quality work done in the next few days.

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #7

Hey Blogland,

Yet another week has passed us by, with absolutely no regard for my feelings on the matter. As usual. Damn inconsiderate of it, really.

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
    • Nope.
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related
    • Nope.

Weekly Word Count: 4,492

That’s an awful lot of words for no progress on either of my projects, so what gives? Well, back in December I signed up for a Valentine’s exchange in my Writer’s Discord, where we would basically be a secret admirer for another writer the week of Valentine’s Day and celebrate by creating content for them and generally making them feel loved. I ended up writing a Mass Effect oneshot (fandom speak for short story) in two days. I’m actually pretty proud of how it turned out.

Honestly, I think I needed the break. I’ve been pretty stuck with Tavi this month, and feeling pretty down due to the lack of writing. Busting out this story in such a short time and liking it as much as I did was a big ego boost. I needed it.

Between that, a bit of reading, and lots of working hours, that was my week in a nutshell.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi chapter 12
  • Write one tumblr prompt

Given my rocky, stumbling steps this month, keeping things simple and straightforward is really all I can do. As of this moment I’m feeling upbeat and hopeful. I’m reading, I wrote a bit last week, and I finally have some clue where the heck this scene of the novel is headed. Add some caffeine and sprinkle in a playlist or two and that should be a recipe for success.

But, Anthem releases on Friday. I have zero expectations after that. This is the first new IP from Bioware since… Dragon Age? That was 2009 y’all. It’s been TEN YEARS since Bioware made something completely brand new. And it’s beautiful, and the hype is so so so real. I’m warning you now, I am going to go silent for a while and that’s okay. I’ve planned for this.

plan gif

So. Yeah. Reading, writing, and video games. That’s the week ahead. Hopefully in that order. If so, I’ll be back later this week with a review of Lies Sleeping.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #5

Well, last week did not go as planned, at all.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1,500 words on Tavi
  • Write something Santa Sarita related

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! Actually, I published three blog posts. So there!
  • Write 1,500 words on Tavi
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Write something Santa Sarita related
    • Nuh-uh.

Weekly Word Count: 0

What the heck did I do last week? I worked 52 hours and did the only thing that sounded the least bit of interest to me: played video games. Between Kingdom Hearts and the Anthem demo, my limited free time was booked solid. And I am okay with that. I knew going into this month that 12k was a stretch, and that video game releases would prove problematic.

Submissions continue to continue. I was a little down about this yesterday when I wrote my Monthly Recap for January, but I know there’s still a big mountain to climb in this regard. I’ll keep going until there’s nowhere left to submit. That’s the plan.

What’s Next

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 2k words on Tavi
  • Write something Santa Sarita related

That’s it. I’m keeping things low key in hopes I can climb back out of this little funk and get back on track. But, I’m also unwilling to guilt myself for decompressing with things I enjoy, like video games. I’m working a lot, and I want/need to make progress on this novel. And I also need to stay sane. Sometimes, escaping into a good video game is the only thing that helps.

I’m still reading, slowly. I’m still writing. I’m still posting here. The world is not crumbling around me, no matter what my brain says. I’m here, I’m only a little bit behind schedule. Nothing is beyond the point of no return.

Breathe.

… Better?

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

The Recap – January 2019

Hey Bloggos,

January felt long. And yet, it went by entirely too fast for my liking. I feel like I spent too much time sleeping or otherwise recuperating from all the work hours I put in, and not nearly enough time on writing. I’m sensing a trend for 2019 already.

January Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Write 12k words on Tavi
    • No. Which, wasn’t entirely unexpected. I did get pretty close, just under 1500 words short of the goal. I’ll take it.
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
    • Yes! I also wrote a tumblr prompt or two.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. On and on and on.
  • Keep reading!

Total Monthly Word Count: 12,552

This was a busy month. Lots of writing, a lot more reading than I expected, and more time spent playing video games that I SHOULD have expected. I’m trying my best in all areas of my life, which is exhausting. So, sometimes that means a weekend of video games, or a week of no writing. It’s going to happen, because my mental health is going to make demands. And the less I fight it, the better I’ll feel and the quicker I’ll get back to work.

Writing went well until it didn’t. I’ve spent a week away from it now, and think I’m just about ready to figure out this scene. Tavi’s been working this way so far, in a whirlwind and then stalled. I let the scene marinate, until she calls me back and I can work on it again. It’s a different rhythm, but I trust it. It’s led me to more than 35k words so far.

Reading continues, slowly but surely. I’m not feeling particularly drawn to anything, so I’m trying to get through the Firefly novel in my down time. big damn hero.jpg

The short story submissions continue. I had 7 rejections in January. Seven. That stings. I’ve never looked at the number of rejections in a single month before, and I don’t think I want to again. Ouch. That’s a third of what I had all of 2018!

And yet, they continue. As Utada said, “On and On and On”.

February Goals

  • Write 8k on Tavi
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!

So yeah. That’s the plan. Write a bit, give myself permission to relax, and schedule in gaming time. I knew going into this year that Kingdom Hearts and Anthem were going to take their toll on my free time, and they already have. I need to schedule that in if I hope to get this manuscript done before the summer.

And that is still the plan. I want to finish the rough draft in April so that I have May and June to revise it before the writing workshop in July. Granted, I only get to go if I’m awarded a scholarship, but it’s WAY better to have a prepped MS and not get to go than arrive with nothing to share.

Writing 8k on Tavi doesn’t seem like enough, and it isn’t, but I think it’s a big ask for the shortest month of the year. We’ll see how it goes.

See y’all tomorrow to talk about this past week!

 

BZ

When You’re Stuck in Limbo

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a Type A personality. I make, live, and die by my lists. I have a whiteboard that tells me what to do each week and a planner that basically runs my life. And yes, they’re color-coded and require a legend for anyone who might take a gander at them.

But what happens when life doesn’t stick to the plan? Or worse yet, what if there is no plan, because there are too many variables?

That’s me right now. I’m standing on that little island of concrete in the roundabout wondering where the hell I’m supposed to go. I’m suffocating in opportunity, worried that once I do make a decision, it might be the wrong one.

So, I’m standing still and somehow edging ever closer to burnout. I can’t stay here forever, but I can’t decide what to do yet. I don’t have all the facts. And I know there’s a looming leap of faith, but I’ve never been very good at those.

On one hand I want to take the leap, I crave the risk and the adventure. But on the other, I don’t want to sacrifice the comfort and stability I’ve built over these years. But then, aren’t I just doing the safe thing? Nothing risked, nothing gained and all that.

So my mind just turns over and over and over again, chasing ideas and hopes and fears until I’m dizzy. What if, what if, what if, whatifwhatifwhatif. But there’s nothing to do, no way to alleviate these frantic thoughts, until after March. I’ll know then and the path will be clear, then I can pour all this frenetic energy into whatever course I’ve chosen.

But that’s still a month and half away. I need a distraction, and most days the novel is enough, but yesterday I hit a bit of a wall with it. Nothing major, nothing insurmountable. But I needed the distraction and it wasn’t enough. With the launch of both Kingdom Hearts III and Anthem just around the corner, hopefully I can sink some hours into those and find a little relief.

Escapism at its finest.

 

Thinking Out Loud

I’ve finally put down Detroit: Become Human. After five play-throughs, I think it’s safe to say I’ve accomplished all the major variations I wanted, saw all the striking differences my decisions could lead to, and it’s time to pass it on to the next person.

Image result for detroit become human

This also means that I’m slowly returning to a sense of productivity. I read a few short stories yesterday, namely Calved and Things with Beards by Sam J. Miller. There was a Paolo Bucigalupi short story too, City of Ash.  Both of these authors are wonderful, capable of stuffing so much emotion in so few words. Their stories have depth beyond just the page and its a reminder of the strength and purpose of short fiction. It’s good to read them and realize how much work there is to be done in my own short fiction writing.

I’m not going to pull The Cost of Rain or Lifelike. They are what they are, and they’re both getting close enough that I’m still confident that they’ll find homes eventually. But, this is a nice time to let the wheels start turning over That Which Illuminates Heaven. I’m almost ready to think about it critically, to tear it to pieces and foster the most effective bits into something powerful and full of whimsy. I have a lot of hopes pinned on this story; I think it might be something special.

But before any of that, there’s a second job to start and a vacation to be had. Once I’m back I’ll have to flex those time management muscles to reach my goals, and may have to have some very real considerations about setting realistic expectations. I’m used to working part time and putting hours and hours into my writing and editing. It’s been a really wonderful couple of years, allowing me to really focus on my craft and hone my skills.

But now it’s back to work. Probably 40+ hours a week, knowing me. Which means I need to maximize my writing time. I was able to work 40+ hours a week and go to school full time; I can write and work too. It’s just going to be a big adjustment.

I’m still slowly reading Borne. I picked a bad time to try and pick it up, nothing could bornecompete with Detroit: Become Human. But, I’ve got the next week to read it and the related novella The Strange Bird before we leave for Germany.

I don’t know If I’ll get the reviews for either of them up before we leave, but I will try.

Then, once I’m back, it’s all about revising That Which Illuminates Heaven and researching for my as of yet untitled Urban Fantasy NaNoWriMo project. I have no idea how I will write 50k words and work full time, but I’m sure gonna try. Expect the word counts for September and October to be pretty low and for November and December to be relatively high.

Anyway, that’s where my brain’s at. My wheels are spinning but there’s not much output just yet. I hope to return from my travels refreshed and ready to finish 2018 strong!

Talk at y’all on Monday, as per usual.

Until then

 

BZ