The Recap – May 2019

May was a weird month, yo. It started out with this mad dash to get the book done, and then screeched to a crawl as I relaxed and struggled to find my writing legs again in the aftermath.

May Goals

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read a short story each week
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • YES!!!!!!! It took a concerted effort to get it done on schedule, but I did!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. I received a few rejections this month, but everything is back out and waiting for evaluation.
  • Read a short story each week
    • Not quite. I read four short stories, but there was an extra week in May and I didn’t squeeze one in during that week.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! Since I finished Tavi I’ve read/listened to 10 titles! Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Reading Round Up to learn more.

Monthly Word Count: 20,205

The last leg of writing Tavi was… exhausting. I was a woman possessed, the final chapters gripping me by the collar and dragging me along with them. Words came faster than I could rightly keep up, until the very last few scenes, where they slowed and demanded I pay strict attention to what came before so I could shore up any loose ends. I haven’t gone back to read it yet, but I felt really good about everything came together at the end. If you want to read more about the whole “writing a book” thing, I have a post for that.

Short story submissions continue to continue. This month was a little bit tough because I had a story out for 120 days and received a form rejection on it. I raged a bit at that and I’m still salty whenever I think about it. I’m not convinced I’ll submit to that market again, especially since I bought an issue of their magazine and wasn’t super impressed with what they were publishing. But, I also know that if I have a story that fits their call for submission, I won’t self-reject or hold that story back just because I’m a bit miffed at the magazine. That’s just childish.

I’m (still) waiting to hear back about my story that was held for further consideration. There was a bit of movement at that market recently, with a slew of rejections and a couple of acceptances, but mine is still waiting. I’m trying not to get my hopes up which I’m obviously failing at since I’m talking about it here. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m slowly finishing up Transcendent, with only three short stories left to read. I should have read one more this month, but I just didn’t get it in. Probably because my hike utterly destroyed me this weekend.

lava tube cave 2
Lava Tube Cave, 20 minutes south of Bend, Oregon

Speaking of, I did a lot of hiking this month! A trip out to Central Oregon, an extremely muddy (and fun) hike at Cape Falcon, and then a long, sunny hike to the picturesque Marion Lake made May a wonderful, surprisingly outdoorsy month. I hiked a total of 15.7 miles this month! Ok, Marion Lake was technically June, but whatever. It was gorgeous and I have lots of pictures to share.

I’m also beginning to see the effects of these weekly hikes. Calf muscles are making themselves known, my thighs are getting slimmer, and my cardio is already greatly improved. There’s also the sunburns turning to tans and a remarkable mental clarity and reduced migraine intensity I hadn’t anticipated. Aside from the sunburns, all good things.

June Goals

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

Right now, I’m not so sure the new short story will be done by the end of the month. It’s been very slow going, and I don’t know if it’s because my brain hasn’t quite recovered from finishing Tavi or if this story’s challenging prose is slowing me down. It’s one of the most craft-forward stories I’ve ever tried to tell, and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s just very very slow so far. 

Marion Lake
Marion Lake, Willamette National Forest

As usual, submissions will continue and continue and continue until something sticks.

I still love reading short stories and have no desire to cut them from my reading. I’ve got a handful of collections checked out from the library right now, so I should be able to get this one done no problem.

I also have a huge TBR stack from the library on my entryway table so there should be plenty of reading and reviews this month. When I’m not reading or writing, I’ll be outdoors. I’m pretty much living for my Saturday hikes, so expect more pictures in the weeks to come.

Sorry this post was a little late, but the good news for you is that you get double the posts from me today! I’ll be back real soon with my weekly goals summary!

 

BZ

 

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Write Here, Write Now 2019

Hey Bloggos,

Yesterday was Willamette Writers’ Write Here, Write Now event, where a slew of authors give 10 minute talks, followed by 45 minute writing blocks. Lunch was catered and each attendee had two 12 minute one-on-ones with an author. I had sessions with both Devon Monk and Diana Pharaoh Francis and it was awesome!

I don’t want to get into a play-by-play of the day, but just wanted to say that the event was 100% worth it. I wrote just over 3,800 words yesterday. I met authors and local writers and did a fantastic job of being myself. I can’t emphasize how difficult that is for me in a new social setting. But I was funny, unafraid to chat, and made some new writer contacts, so that’s a big win for me. Just as much a win as busting out all those words.

Speaking of, those words put me just slightly ahead of schedule for finishing my novel. I have an outlined one and a half chapters left, but I think there’s going to be more than that before everything is said and done. Which means this rough draft will be over 80k!

happy dance gif.gif

As usual, I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the week in depth.

Until then,

 

BZ

P.S. If you want my notes from the conference, check out my Patreon!

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #15

Hey Blogland,

It’s been an emotional day after learning about the tragedy in Paris. I visited Notre Dame when I was fifteen. That same year, before we ever knew each other, my husband also traveled to Paris and went to see the beautiful Cathedral. Now, almost fifteen years later, we’d both hoped to visit again so we could share those memories. I’m at once feeling the loss of what was and of what could have been, but I know it is nothing in comparison to the grief of the citizens of Paris and all of France. Je suis de tout cœur avec vous.

But before today came a whole week of writing and reading. Let’s talk about that.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp. Not only two but three, thanks to a busy week of reading and reviewing.
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • Yes! And then some!
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night
    • Yep. And I finished listening to A Gathering of Shadows!a gathering of shadows

Weekly Word Count: 4,368

Do you see that word count? Do you? It was a hard fought week with the manuscript with some scenes pouring out of me while others had to be tugged like knotted rope. But, the point is, I sat down each day and committed to 500 words. Some days that was all I could manage, but most days there were quite a bit more. Most days the flow didn’t hit until I crossed over 500 words and poured into more.

I finally powered through the last third of The City in the Middle of the Night. The review is up now for those who are interested in my thoughts on the book. I also posted the review for A Darker Shade of Magic on Friday, so it was a busy week on the blog.

I read Trail of Lightning and binge-listened to A Gathering of Shadows, pretty much screaming the entire time while I folded laundry. It took all of my self-control not to purchase the audiobook of A Conjuring of Light because I was very nearly too impatient to get my hands on the hard copy today. I also read a short story, as per my monthly goal of a story a week. So, yeah, lots of reading and writing this past week.

I’m trying to remember if there was anything else. The Walk ‘n’ Talk was rescheduled to this week, and Madhu received another Full Manuscript Request, so that’s awesome. I’ve sort of reached that nose to the grindstone phase of the novel. There’s not much to talk about writing-wise right now. I just need to buckle in and get work done.

Speaking of which…

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light

So, yeah. More of the same. I’ve got two book reviews slotted for this week, so we’re all good there. I’m still feeling good about the manuscript and the direction the story is headed, so as long as I make time at my desk, I feel good about my word count goals. And as for reading the last Shades of Magic book? I can’t think of much that could stop me from inhaling it at inhuman speeds.

The short stories are STILL out and I’m still slowly dying of anticipation. Each day more stories are rejected (and some are even accepted) but mine remain in the nebulous realm of “Maybe”. It’s exhausting.

lisa collar tug gif.gif

What else? Walk ‘n’ Talk later this week and another hike on Saturday’s docket. Still don’t know where we’re going, but somewhere pretty and probably wet. I’m sure there will be pictures to share. There’s also a bit of social activity this week with dinner out tomorrow night and possibly(?) trivia on Thursday. Oh! And the Willamette Writers meeting on Wednesday.

Good grief. When am I supposed to do any writing? I may have overbooked myself. And there’s another busy week after that too, but I’ll talk more about that later.

Oh yeah! I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, mostly as a way to keep myself accountable this month and really focus on getting this draft done. I like seeing the little graph grow each day, and I really like seeing the daily breakdowns of my productivity.

That’s all, I think. Reading and writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. I have a couple busy weeks ahead of me, both personally and writing-wise as I try to get this novel rough draft done before June. Meanwhile I’m trying not to think too much about all the pending news I’m waiting on. The good news is I have enough books that I ought to be well and truly distracted.

TBR madness

See anything you like? Tell me all about it (spoiler-free please!) in the comments! I’ll be back with the review for Trail of Lightning on Wednesday, and A Gathering of Shadows on Friday.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

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

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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

The Recap – October 2018

Bloggos!

It’s November! Whaaaaaaaat? How can that be? It’s NaNoWriMo season already?

whaaaat

What in tarnation did I even do with October?

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

How’d I Do?

  • Tumblr prompt
    • Yes. Although, it’s been so long now that I hardly remember doing it.
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yes! It took six drafts, but the final proofread is done and ready to be put into the computer. I plan to submit it tomorrow.
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
    • Yep! Over 4,000 words of research and not a whole lot of outlining. Which is still more than I’d normally do.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read three books, all of which have been reviewed here.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Both Lifelike and The Cost of Rain received rejections this month, although Lifelike did get a really wonderful personal rejection. They have both since been submitted to the next magazine on the list.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • YES! It took an age, but I finally made this happen.

Total Monthly Word Count: 2,628

This month was a strange one. It was extremely productive, as you can see from the above list of successes, but I didn’t really feel like I accomplished much in the day-to-day. Writing was minimal, which sucks, but was also the plan.

Editing was in full swing this month, with That Which Illuminates Heaven seeing multiple revisions, a full proofread of The Charlatan and the Coinshot, and reading submissions for The Audient Void (still ongoing).

Reading was slow but consistent. Three novels in a month is nothing to sneeze at and is probably better than the reading that will happen in November.

Submissions are still rolling along. I was just telling my husband how now I’m less anxious about them and increasingly becoming more and more impatient. I’m getting so close, getting wonderful feedback and reaching high levels of consideration. I’m ready for someone to finally say “yes”. Sadly, I know this feeling to be premature. I’ve only submitted 22 times this year, both stories combined, and many stories have to go out to more magazines than that before they’re published. I have a long road ahead of me yet.

Sanctuary is still hanging in there. I’m feeling pretty far away from the project right now, which is logical since I won’t be working on it at all this month. Maybe after two months of posting The Charlatan and the Coinshot I’ll feel a little more energized about this longfic.

November Goals

  • Write 800 words/day Logo_of_National_Novel_Writing_Month
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep Reading!

I don’t think there’s really much more to put here. National Novel Writing Month pretty much monopolizes all my time in November. If I can read a couple books and keep up with my short story submissions this month, I’ll be happy.

And, yeah, that’s what’s up. That’s where I’m at on this first day of November. Feeling pretty great about October, even if I didn’t at the time, and looking to ride that momentum and success into and through NaNoWriMo.

Unless I read an entire novel in the next two days, you won’t hear from me again until Monday. You know, weekly goals and whatnot.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

The Recap – May 2018

Blogland!

I can’t believe it, but May has come and gone. Hello June! This morning, as I stepped into my office my bare toes found rays of sunshine that were so warm I smiled. That’s a simple joy, a promise of summer and the warmth to come over the next couple months, and I am here for it!

Now then, what the heck happened in May?

May Goals

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading

How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day for The Steel Armada
    • YES!!!!! I wrote a total of 15,758 words for The Steel Armada this month. That’s just over 500 words a day. Now, I didn’t actually sit down every day, but I did write more this month than I have any other month this year.
  • Write 2 chapters for Sanctuary
    • Nope. I finished chapter 3 and started chapter 4, but that was it. Just under 1,000 words total for the month on this project.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yeppers. Lifelike is still out (day 41!), and I just received another rejection on The Cost of Rain this morning. Don’t worry, I just turned around and sent it out to another magazine. No tears over here!
  • Keep reading
    • Slowly but surely. According to Goodreads, I read four titles this month. Not great, but I’ll take it.

Total May Word Count: 18,545

I kept May’s goals straightforward because I wasn’t confident in my ability to meet my word count goals. But, I did well! I’m really proud of myself.

During this month I wrote a ton, outlined some chapters, and had a heck of a time corralling ideas into something cohesive. This rewrite is a wild ride, and for now I’m following wherever the characters lead me. I think I’m starting to see how it all gels together, but I won’t know for sure until I get there. Scary stuff, but fun too.

Oh, Sanctuary, I’m so sorry I didn’t get more work done on you. I may have to admit that this project is going to take longer than I initially planned. As long as I finish it this year, that’s fine, but a part of me was really hoping to knock this one out quick.

I did write a couple tumblr drabbles this month, which padded my word count a bit, but they were good fun and had good responses from readers, so yay!

Short story submissions are trucking along. I have a couple thoughts for blog posts about this process so far, so that will probably go up sometime in June.

Reading has ground to a bit of a standstill as I’m caught in a battle of wills with The Master Magician. I’m having a really tough go of it, but I only have 70 pages left. I’m going to make an effort today and tomorrow to just get it over with.

Honorable Mentions?


Betrayal-at-Baldurs-Gate

I’m wracking my brain to think if there were any extra-curricular activities this month. I’ve been table top gaming with my husband and our good friend Ben. One such game saw me acting as the “Game Master” for the very first time. I was nervous, but I had a blast, and I’m definitely considering running a game as a nice storytelling alternative when I need a break from blank pages and condemning cursors.

The blog had its best month EVER this month! Here, have some stats!

  • Posted 11 blog posts; 4 Weekly Goals Summaries, 3 Book Reviews, 2 Editing Check-Ins, 1 Monthly Recap, and 1 personal post about my laptop.
  • 525 views, with 406 visitors!
  • Links were clicked 14 times!
  • 7 comments were left!
  • 8 new followers!

This blog is a tiny thing, a determined little tank engine of a site that keeps chugging along despite its relatively low viewership and interaction. There are plenty of writing blogs that have thousands of followers and a number of views that would make my head spin. But that isn’t this blog. And that’s fine. I initially created this site as a place to hold myself accountable and to share my writing experiences. This year, I’m finally doing that. And book reviews, random thoughts, and opinions on fandom and fanfiction.

This consistency in posts is proving itself in the blog’s stats this year. Expect a post about it around the end of June, a sort of six month update.

Madhu and I have been going on biweekly Walk ‘n’ Talks. She’s a morning person, so we usually hit a local park around 9/9:30, before the masses, and march about talking about our books. We hash out any foggy areas in one another’s feedback and I tend to do a lot of brainstorming/thinking out loud when I’m with her. Plus, I need motivation to do more activity out of doors. I’ve been a bit of a hermit this month.

Which brings us to June.

June’s To-Dos

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Write chapters 4 and 5 of Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Straightforward worked last month, why change it? I am upping my workload on Sanctuary, mainly because I don’t want to sit on this project forever. I’d really like to have both The Steel Armada and Sanctuary done by November so I can work on something new for NaNoWriMo this year.

Short story submissions will continue until the stories find homes. It sort of feels like cheating making it a goal for the month, but I suspect that, as the rejections pile up, it will be harder and harder to convince myself to carry on. So, I keep it on the board. That way I’ll be reminded and determined to keep submitting.

And the reading. We all know by now that writing and reading go hand in hand. What’s the phrase? Can’t stop, won’t stop! Also, a quick shout out to the lovely folks that left series recommendations on my review for Skin Game. I’ve got the first Vampire Files audiobook on hold, as well as the first book in the Peter Grant series. I appreciate you both, and can’t wait to try these stories out!

As for non-writing/reading plans in June… I got pretty much nothing. Which is wonderful. We’re supposed to start playing Gloomhaven this month, which I can’t wait for. I’m trying to keep myself spoiler-free for this game, but what little I’ve heard about it sounds very, very exciting.Gloomhaven

Um… other than that, yard work, a couple of nebulous hiking plans, and catching the Farmer’s market on Saturdays. That’s all I got, but it’s wonderful.

Happy June, everyone.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 21

Oh, Blogland.

I forgot about the holiday weekend! Or rather, I somehow thought the holiday wouldn’t affect me. Let me tell you, I was oh, so wrong…

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Start Sanctuary chapter 4
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

…And?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp! The book review for Skin Game is up now!skin game
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • … No. Ugh, I was doing so well! But ultimately, social plans really got in the way this week.
  • Start Sanctuary chapter 4
    • Yep! Just over 100 words, but it’s better than nothing! And, luckily, I’m finally kicking that plot into gear!
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
    • Nope. I am having a very rough time with this book. I’m trying not to let it get me down but, it is a struggle.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • You know it! Madhu continues to astound as she plows through her rewrites.

Weekly Word Count: 1,209

Basically, I did good work on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then totally derailed myself on Thursday by spending my day off hanging out with my mother-in-law. I had a great time and really enjoyed the time spent outdoors, but it killed my routine quite thoroughly. Then I worked on Friday, felt the beginnings of a migraine, and medicated.

Saturday found me migraine free and able to go wine tasting with my best friend, which was 100% worth skipping a day attached to my laptop. But, the migraine came back in force, which led to a Sunday spent on the couch napping through Stephen Fry in America.

Then yard work today and a long overdue FaceTime with my grandma means I did no work for days. Whole DAYS! It’s time to get back at it!

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Thoughts

Blog posts will be abundant this week. I have half of the Editing Check-In done, since it was waylaid by this weekend. I’ll also have the May Recap to share on Friday, and hopefully a review for The Master Magician if I can power through it.

I am really close to making my writing goal for this month. I just have to write 2k words over the next three days. I can do that! I can totally do that!

Unfortunately, I am less hopeful about finishing The Master Magician. I have about 70 pages to go, which is nothing, but this book is killing me. And it doesn’t help that the new Snow Patrol album is out and all I want to do is play piano and learn the songs from it.

I expect Madhu’s pages to be great, and a good way to spend my time, yet again. I think we have a Walk ‘n’ Talk planned for this week as well, so that’ll be nice. I’m always confident that I’ll get this goal done each week, I’m less confident that I’ll have enough pages to send her by Wednesday.

So, I just need to buckle down this week and commit to my writing so that I can meet my goals and feel damn good by the weekend! I can do that!

Kill the Farm Boy

I’ll be back soon to share my thoughts on the editing/rewriting process so far and hopefully to talk about The Master Magician, so I can move on to the book I’m actually excited about, Kill the Farm Boy!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ