WEBSITE LAUNCH!

Bloggos!

The time has come. I’ve been writing here on “To Write These Words Down…” for over a decade. That’s a very long time to call a particular corner of the internet home. Each year, I tend to greet the New Year by renovating the blog’s appearance — changing the headers and colors and images until it feels fresh and new. It’s like rearranging the furniture, but in my virtual home.

I’d been considering other virtual spaces for years now, but with my first professional sale and my committment to “REACH” for opportunity and new skills/experiences in 2022, it felt like the right time to make the change.

I’ve bought a new living space online. It’s bigger and sturdier and with a much better floorplan. All right, enough of that metaphor, the point is, I have a new ACTUAL website!

You can find me at bzelkovich.com!

Kermit Flail GIFs | Tenor

What does this mean for this site?

Well, I won’t be posting or updating here anymore. It won’t be deleted. The blog will be here, always, but it will serve as a guidepost of where to find me from now on. In time Google algorithms will catch up and the search engines will put the new site at the top of the results page. Slowly but surely, this site will fade. It’s sad, but still so exciting to have my own domain name and a place to really call my home.

I’ll be leaving up the blog posts, the What I’m Reading lists, and the About page. The podcast page and the publications page will be deleted.

The new site is prettier, much more customizable, but most importantly, is still my home. It has a blog where I’ll be writing the same sorts of content and being my usual, weird, opinonated self.

In addition to my socials (twitter and Facebook), you’ll find an option to subscribe to a monthly(ish) newsletter on the new site. I hope you will so we can keep in touch. If not, well, thanks for reading along all these years. It’s been an honor and a joy to call “To Write These Words Down…” home.

Here’s to the next chapter in this writing life and I’ll see you all in 2022!

For the last time in this little corner of the internet:

So long Bloggos!

BZ

How to Talk About Your Writing When You’re Anxious AF

No. Seriously. Does anyone know?

You’d think after a decade of blogging about writing, taking creative writing classes, and talking with other writers at meetings and conferences I’d be a pro! But, uh… Nope. It is a struggle, every damn time.

In virtual spaces it’s easier for me. On the blog, on twitter, tumblr, or my various other social media accounts it’s easier. It’s just me shouting into the void about the most important thing in my life. If other people connect with it or engage with it, cool.

(Spouse and doggo are not “things” just fyi. I didn’t forget them.)

But, in person? Face-to-face? With EYE CONTACT?!?!?!

Nope. Nuh-uh. No can do.

Cant Do It Not Today GIF - Cant Do It Not Today Not Now Please - Discover &  Share GIFs

If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you may have garnered that I am a being steeped in ADHD and Anxiety, with an added dash of Depression to keep things spicy. I am mostly functional because my personal mantra is “fake it ’til you make it.” Shoutout to my high school dance teacher for that gem of life advice — Thanks, Mrs. Buren!

My back-up plans have back-up plans and my phone calls have dress rehearsals. I am not great at social situations and tend to replay them for weeks afterward, picking my every movement and word apart, dissecting for the exact moment I revealed myself as (insert disparaging remark here). Unfunny, stupid, weird, rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate, weird, awkward, uncomfortable, weird… you get the point. I worry. A lot.

So, you can imagine, talking about something as vital to me as my writing is very stressful. It’s easier with strangers. I don’t really care what strangers think about me and never have. And my closest loved ones are easy because I know they know me best. They will read the work and understand it. And they’ll understand my flailing, ranting, rabid excitement about it. They even claim to find it endearing. Who’s weird now?

(Pssst… It’s still me.)

But, acquaintances? People I know in passing, friends of friends, or *gasp* colleagues? This is the nightmare scenario. Sharing my writing with people I generally like, and who seem to like genuinely me is terrifying. Because they know me just well enough that they might see behind the curtain of my fiction and find my trembling heart hidden underneath the floorboards. It’s a vulnerability that makes my chest clench, my palms damp, and gives me the cold sweats.

But talking about our publications is absolutely necessary! Not only should we celebrate our accomplishments, but we also need to market our books!

How do I overcome this?

Perhaps you should take your aunt's advice and practice – MOVIE QUOTES |  Darcy pride and prejudice, Pride and prejudice 2005, Pride and prejudice

The answer seems obvious and I hate it. To get better about talking about my writing I have to… talk about my writing. Gross. Gross, but I get it. I get it! But how? Where do I do this? When? My closest friends and family already know all the things. I talk with them. I have no problem talking about my writing career with fellow writers. Granted, that’s all been over a zoom call lately, so who knows if that ease will transfer to in person interactions. And I’ve gotten better at talking to acquaintances! But only when they bring it up first…

*Sigh*

What I need is a good reading. I need to get in front of people and practice reading my work and talking about it with them. This is deeply disconcerting. It’s the last thing I want to do, but I just looked and there’s an Open Mic Night through Willamette Writers at the end of January. Guess I’m gonna read something.

… Shit.

I did a reading once in college. It was terrifying. I did all right, but I remember how much my hands and voice shook. I think it’ll go better this time. I have a bit more confidence now than I did then. Maybe this will just be one of the things I work on in 2022?

Speaking of 2022, I should probably start thinking about goals for next year…

Ah, shit.

BZ

In Which I “Do Words Good”

So, I kinda, sorta announced this already, but figured it ought to have its own post.

I got my first professional sale!!!

happy dance

“The Lament of Kivu Lacus” will be in Laksa Media’s Life Beyond Us: an Anthology of Original SF and Science Essays, forthcoming in Fall 2022. My story was one of two stories selected from the open call for submissions — the other 28 stories are all by authors invited to submit (including heavy hitters like Mary Robinette Kowal, Premee Mohamed, Bogi Takács, Tobias S. Buckell, and more). What’s even better is that this anthology is partnered with the European Astrobiology Institute, and each story will be paired with an essay addressing the science presented in the work of fiction!

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate this sale, the obvious being that it’s my FIRST PROFESSIONAL SALE! I know that, ultimately, that doesn’t really change anything for me or my writing. I’m still going to get rejected. A lot. I will not suddenly be contacted by agents and editors begging for my manuscripts. I will not become an overnight award winner or a contributor to a Year’s Best Anthology. Okay… that last one isn’t AS unlikely as the other two, but the other two are literally not going to happen so…

The point is, this professional sale sure is validating. I do words good and someone else thinks I do words good too!

Another reason to celebrate is the fact of the sheer numbers I was up against. Only two stories were selected out of 250 submissions. That’s… not insignificant. The selection process is a difficult one — I’ve been there as a slush reader for The Audient Void. You know what stories won’t make it, but it isn’t always so clear which ones will. And, submitting to magazines is so subjective. There’s a lot that can factor into an Editor’s decision. Is this the third story about space whales they’ve read today? Are they a monster who hates cetaceans, even earthly ones? Did they skip breakfast and they’re grumpy? Who knows, man? Certainly not us!

But another reason to celebrate is this: the submission guidelines specifically said that stories about [REDACTED] would be a hard sell because they already had a story about that. I almost didn’t submit because of that one line in the guidelines. But, I thought about it, considered the weird, wonderful, heart-wrenching story I had written, and thought, “don’t self-reject.” I also honestly believed that whatever story they already had would be wildly different from my strange little tear-jerker. It was worth submitting.

And guess what, Dear Reader? It was. It was so, so worth it.

BZ

The Recap – March 2020

How do I talk about March? What will I expect to find in this blog post this time next year? Five years from now? How do I capture the way normalcy was utterly shredded in what felt like two days, and then pasted back together in a totally new pattern? The start of March was one world, the end of March is another. Which is only weirder, because I didn’t pick goals until mid-March, when I realized I was going to be home more than usual.

March Goals

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Keep Reading!
  • Write 2000 words

How’d I do?

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
    • Yep! I’ve sent it to a few people for a beta read. Once I hear back I’ll make some more adjustments and then start submitting.
  • Keep Reading!
    • Oh, yeah. That’s pretty much all I’ve been doing.  I read 6 titles in March.
  • Write 2000 words
    • Yarp. Actually, a bit more than that.

Total Word Count: 6,956

This month has been so long. I know we all feel the same way about this. I initially embraced the order to stay home, looking forward to gaming and reading time. But it only took about three weeks of limited outside interaction to realize I was feeling pent up. Trapped. Thank goodness I’ve been out of the house for work these last couple of days.

Lots of reading, quality Dragon Age time, a bit of editing, and making videos for my students got me through the last half of March. I still have two short stories out on submissions right now, as per usual. I’ll be sure to let you all know if that should change.

April Goals

  • Submit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Begin Tavi revisions
  • Keep Reading!
  • Write 4000 words

As it sits right now, I’m feeling good about Lament. Well, not really. It’s horribly depressing, and I don’t know if anyone will want such a deeply sad story (especially right now) but craft-wise I think it’s pretty well done. I like the changes I made, the risks I took. I think the story pays off and is the best I can make it without outside opinions. Which means I’m playing the stage 1 waiting game: waiting for beta readers to tell me their thoughts!

Tavi edits is a big job. Not because the book is in bad shape, I actually think it’s the most cohesive first draft I’ve ever written, but because it’s almost 90k words that I have to read and sculpt over and over again until I feel about it the way I feel about Lament. I’m guessing that’s about a three month project, at best.

There’s no shortage of reading material in this house. I still have two more books from the public library to read, and then I’ll start tucking into all those books I bought over the years but never read.

I’m not so sure about the writing goal this month. I don’t have any writing planned, other than fanfic, which has been giving me some trouble this last week. We’ll see how much output I have while I’m revising and back at work, at least in some capacity. I did have a short story I was working on, but I decided to pause on that because it’s one of those cases where my writing hasn’t quite leveled up enough. I want to play around with the timeline and experiment with it a bit, but I don’t even know where to start. Something to read of/about, and then try again at a later date.

So, yeah. Reading, writing, editing. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’ll be back on Monday to talk goals, and hopefully with another review video, if I can get either Vengeful or The Ocean at the End of the Lane finished up over the weekend.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

So, I Wrote a Book…

I’m not really sure how to feel about it. At first, euphoria. Holy shit, I did it! I told any and everyone about my accomplishment. I glowed with the joy of having finished a major project. But now it’s been a couple weeks and the novelty of the finished thing has worn off. It still feels awesome when I stop and think about it, but I’m not thinking about it as often.

Which is a good thing, actually. I need to give the book some space to breathe and let my mind get some distance from the characters and places that lived inside my head for over six months.

Let’s talk stats:

Total Word Count: 87,903
Total Time: 27 weeks (just over 6 months)
Average Weekly Word Count: 3,255
# of False Starts: NONE! This book knew where it was going even when I didn’t. It wrote straight through, with only a couple of awkward scenes. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.

Those numbers look and feel good, but they don’t capture how it felt. Keep in mind that, until April, I was working two jobs, averaging anywhere from 45-52 hours each week. I was tired. Like, mind-numbingly tired. I wrote in the evenings, after my shifts, usually before and after dinner. There wasn’t time for much else, though I didn’t notice it at the time.

Only once I finished the book did I realize just how much it absorbed me. These last few weeks without it have been very… free. There’s time to do just about anything. Clean the entire house? Sure! I’ve got time. The house is much tidier now that there’s time to tend to it. Read all the things? Absolutely! What else would I do with my evening? Play video games? Oh, man! I missed those! (Don’t worry, I’ve made up for lost time with Assassin’s Creed.)

It also made me realize how wonderful my spouse is, because once I stopped working on the book, I understood how little he actually saw me. It was so nice to spend evenings with him again, not just inhaling dinner and vanishing to my office. We can watch movies and television together, or play games together. Or, and this is wild and crazy, maybe even go out for dinner.

What I’m getting at here is that writing this book was a huge time-suck and sacrifice for my marriage and household. There are costs to writing a book, and I didn’t even realize I was paying them until it was done.

That being said, I wouldn’t change any of it. This went by relatively quickly, the book wrote itself and I mean that. When I started I only had a character and a vague concept of the premise of this book. Everything else appeared as needed. Side characters, villains, subplots, all of them born out of necessity, not planning.

The book provided, so long as I was willing and able to write it all down.

So, what now?

Honestly, I don’t really know. I don’t feel very concrete about much of anything at the moment. I think I’m still recuperating from the marathon of writing the novel, because nothing feels particularly exciting or compelling. Nothing is calling to me, begging me to spend time on it. I know I need to take a break from Tavi, ideally the whole summer. I was only going to revise it sooner than that if I received a scholarship for a workshop in July. Since I didn’t, I’ve got time to let the manuscript dribble out of my brain. I’m tentatively planning to begin revisions in September. In a perfect world I’d have the manuscript ready to query by the New Year.

I don’t know about you, but my world is far from perfect. So, I’ll be happy if the book is “finished” by May 2020.

That means I have three months to work on other stuff. The question is, what other stuff?

  • In Great Need of Ghosts (working title)
    • This is the new short story I’m working on. I’d originally hoped to work on a couple stories before moving on to the next big project, but this one is coming together pretty slowly right now. If that changes, great! If not, no big deal. I’m more than willing to take the time it takes.
  • Exodus: Descent revision
    • It’s been about nine months since I finished rewriting my very first novel into a totally brand new novella. While I did revise it after completing the rewrite, I knew it wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. There was something needling at me that I knew was wrong, and halfway through Tavi I figured it out. And since a couple of the potential markets I wanted to send it to are open for submission through the summer, July will be the perfect month to dedicate to fixing the glaring issue and perfecting the rest.
  • The Bahn Hexe (working title)
    • Another short story idea that’s been eating at me since we came home from Munich. I don’t think it’s quite ready to be written yet, but it’s close.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got on my radar right now. And for now, it feels like enough. I’ll have more to say about upcoming projects and goals this weekend when I share my Monthly Recap post for May.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ