Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 15

Hello Blogland,

I can’t wait to tell you guys all about this weekend! It was not at all what expected, in a multitude of ways. But before any of that, we need to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)dresden wild card
  • Review Madhu’s pages
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference

 

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit Chapter 10 of The Steel Armada
    • Ugh. Did not happen. I thought there’d be time to work while at the conference, and while I managed to squeeze in some quality outlining and write up the beginnings of a query letter, there was no real editing to be had.
  • Read Down Town and Wild Card (Dresden Files graphic novels)
    • Yarp. And did one better – I also read Dog Men.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yarpitty-yarp. As usual.
  • Have SO MUCH FUN at the OWC 2018 Writers Conference
    • Oh boy, did I! I have so many stories and thoughts to share, so I’ll have a post up sometime this week chronicling it all.

Weekly Word Count: 366

While I didn’t get as much work done at the conference as I’d hoped (there simply wasn’t time), I managed to get almost everything done this week. Almost. You know, with the big important one left behind: editing. But, I’ve got a much clearer focus and game plan for The Steel Armada than I ever have before. I see where it’s weak and actually have an idea of how I can fix it, and that has me more excited than ever to get to work on it.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit chapters 10, 11, and 12 of The Steel Armada
  • Revise The Seasons per feedback
  • Finish reading Binti: The Night Masqueradebinti the night maquerade
  • Review Madhu’s pages

 

Thoughts

This week’s goals are lofty, yet doable. I finished listening to Cold Days on Thursday, so I’ll have the review up soon. I’ve got the Conference to talk about, and I want to write an “Editing Check-In” post. I don’t think all of those will happen this week because I want to actually get some editing done, but I will definitely meet the posts goal for the week.

I got a personal rejection from the last market I sent The Seasons to, and their feedback was really good. I want to incorporate their thoughts and get the story ready to submit next week while another magazine’s limited submission window is open.

This last Binti novella is really intense so far, so I expect I’ll get it done no problem. And I’ve got the Side Jobs audiobook queued up as well. There’s no shortage of reading materials in my life.

Since we didn’t get as much work done this weekend as we’d planned, Madhu and I agreed to send pages on Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday which is a relief. I could use the extra time to get caught up on revisions.

The biggest thing I got out of the conference was a renewed enthusiasm for The Steel Armada. Do I really believe it could be my first sale? Not really. But, I do think that it’s worth working on, worth finishing, so that once I do make a sale, I can say, well, I also have this.

Plus, I was asked how many more drafts do I think it needs, and I really thought about it… I think it needs two more after this. I’m on the third draft now and there are content edits galore. Characters are melding, motivations are changing/being discovered, the plot is getting ironed out while the world grows and grows. This is a very creation heavy draft. I’ll need one more to make sure all of this new content still makes sense and to fix any pacing and continuity issues. Then I’ll need one last draft to really clean and tighten up everything.

That sounds scary. And so doable. Two more drafts? I can do that! If I buckle down and start treating this project with the devotion it deserves, I could do that this year! Which, if we’ll think all the way back to January, was one of my goals for the year. Finish The Steel Armada.

Man, wouldn’t that be nice?

I’ll be back throughout the week with the Conference recap and a book review!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

 

Book Review- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Hi Blogland,

It feels like forever since I read this book. For that reason, this review won’t have the usual tone. I remember more of the overall impression of this book than the minutia, so that’s what I’ll base this review on.a_monster_calls

This is a book that fucks with you. It pulled me in because of the artwork. Dark and deeply creepy for a YA book, a co-worker and I discovered it while working at the library. We read it a couple weeks apart. The illustrations look like they were done in thick lead pencil, or maybe even charcoals. All heavy greys and blacks, with white used for contrast, and the occasional red for the monster’s eyes.

So, basically, this book is about a boy who uses the premise of a monster to cope with the looming death of his mother, who has terminal cancer. The monster claims that the boy called him, and that before the monster can leave, the boy must divulge his fear. His truth. They meet in the cover of dark, and the boy never really knows if their encounter was a dream or not.

This book reads like a fairy tale, but not in the fun way like Gaiman’s Stardust, or Goldman’s Princess Bride. No. This story reads like a poetic nightmare. The Brothers Grimm if they got a hold of your most private thoughts and spun them into tales that were part moral story and part horror story.

It’s haunting. Powerful. All those adjectives that never seem to actually adequately convey what the hell I’m trying to tell you.

I sobbed when it was over. I crumpled on the floor and wept into my dog’s fur, because I needed anything I could cling to. Now, I should add that I lost a very dear family member to cancer when I was about the main character’s age in this book. It was an immensely personal read for me. And it struck me like a battering ram at the gates. And when those gates opened a flood of latent pain, fear, and relief flowed from me. That horrible mix of emotions anyone feels when they lose someone to something as dreadful as cancer.

I felt it all again, thanks to this book.

I hated it. I hated those pages.I hated the boy. The monster. His family.I hated the artwork that bored its way into my imagination. I hated all of it for awakening things that I’d long considered dealt with.A Monster Calls.jpg

And I loved it.

I fully intend to buy a copy. Preferably one like the ones the library owns. If you’re not aware, the book has been turned into a film, slated to come out in early 2017. I have my doubts, as I do with any adaptation, but the author wrote the script, and the trailer looks absolutely amazing, so I’ll pay the $13 to see it.

I’m sure it will break me all over again.

So, would I recommend this book? Hesitantly. I think, if you read it, and told me you didn’t like it, or that it didn’t impact you, we could no longer be friends. But, as your friend, I’m not really sure I want to inflict such pain on you in the first place.

But, if you want to be emotionally devastated for a few days, give it a go. It’s worth it, ultimately, because it’s a book that changes you. Like a few others in my life, this book reached into me, found something that was broken/missing and helped me address it. Some were more painful than others, and this one tops them all.

a-monster-call-movie
Premiers January 12, 2017

That’s all. There’s nothing else I can say about this book, other than it’s beautiful. And terrible. It’s crushing. Devastating. Like cauterizing a wound.

So, what scabs have you left to peel?

 

BZ

Book Review- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hello Blogland!

To say Book Club met last night would be generous. Two of us met, and I was the only one who read the book.

Needless to say there wasn’t much discussion happening. But, I promised a book review, and I’m not deferring it for a whole month.

So, let me preface this by saying that Hush, Hush is not my typical reading fare. Usually there’s magic, and swords, or some sort of weaponry, and though I never shy away from romance, it’s rarely the focal point of the stories I read.
hush hus.jpg

So, the entire concept of Hush, Hush is that angels are real. Which has me immediately interested. There are angels, and we learn there is a hierarchy within their society, Archangels at the top, Angels of Death somewhere in the middle, and apparently Guardian Angels falling low on the totem pole.

And where there are angels, there are those that have been disgraced, those whose wings were stripped from their shoulders, and who fell from grace. Quite literally, Fallen Angels. These creatures walk the Earth, appearing as humans, but are immortal. They don’t have physical sensations, and so can never truly join in the human experience.

But, when an Angel sleeps with a human, it creates what’s called a Nephilim. These are also immortal, but are much closer to being human. They have interesting abilities but have no affiliation with God or the Devil (both of whom are conspicuously absent from this book).

Being Nephilim sounds rad, right? Oh, except for the fine print that says that, for two weeks during the Hebrew month of Chesvhan, Fallen Angels will assume control of your body so they can party it up like humans.

Talk about awkward.
vulnerable

Anyway, the main character is 16 year old Nora Grey. She seems a reasonable enough teenager at first. Focused on school, one good friend, but socially capable. She’s likable, at least initially.

And then we meet Patch, the mysterious transfer student that Nora gets paired with in Biology. Really, at this point, I have to wonder how many biology teachers are responsible for teenage romance.

And that’s really my biggest problem with this book. It’s riddled with clichés and tropes. Now, that doesn’t necessarily make a book bad, if its aware of its hackneyed status and is poking fun. But Hush, Hush isn’t so tongue in cheek. In fact, it reads like someone took Twilight, and instead of Vampires went with Angels. Over protective boyfriend fully assembled.

So why did I keep reading?

Honestly, because Patch is a really good character. He’s interesting, complex, and probably the only one in the entire book that seems fully fleshed out. I want to know more about him and his world. If Fitzpatrick had written this for adults and completely developed the angels and their hierarchy, then followed Patch on his quest to become human, it would have been a great book.

Instead, for unknown reasons, Patch, an immortal Fallen Angel, has fallen for a 16 year old girl with a sliver of Nephilim blood.

Puke.

Anyway, he’s mysterious and gets into trouble often. But Nora is inexplicably drawn to him. Yet again, a hapless female child is “meant” to be with some overpowered immortal being. And, so far, there’s no apparent reason as to why.

So, as the story continues, Nora has a string of close calls, and she thinks it’s Patch’s doing. But she continues to talk to him and find herself in situations where they’re alone. Because she’s sixteen and dumb, I suppose. There’s no other reasonable conclusion.

But, it turns out that Jules, the love interest of Nora’s best friend, is a Nephilim sworn to Patch. Basically meaning that come Chesvhan, Patch gets dibs. Well, Jules knows that Nora is very distantly related to him, carries his Nephilim blood, and if he kills her, Patch will become human, which is what Patch wants. This will also keep Patch from possessing Jules every year, and make him vulnerable to Jules.
nephilim

So, Patch’s original plan, before he ever really knew her, was to kill Nora so he could be human. That’s why he enrolled at her school. Honestly, don’t question it, it just makes your face scrunch and your head hurt. Just shrug and keep reading.

But, he gets to know her and he falls for her and yadda yadda. So, instead of letting Jules kill her, Nora tries to jump from the rafter of her gym (she was being hunted by Jules so it wasn’t just some whimsical suicide attempt. At least there’s that.), but Patch saves her, unable to let her die for him.

And that gives him his wings back, making him her Guardian Angel.

A little convenient, but all right. Patch dispatches (hehe) Jules, and they go about their lives. Until book 2! Which I’m currently reading and generally disliking.

Now, I do want to say that I didn’t hate this book. It’s… it’s like watching a movie and thinking, “wow, this is terrible. Like really bad. But, dammit, I’m having such a good time.”

That was my exact experience with this book. Plus, Patch is a compelling character, and the dialogue is pretty good. I laughed a lot, not just at the corny bits either.
crescendo

But, I am having a hard time with the second book, and am only continuing because I need to know what Patch is up to. I don’t really care about Nora at all. It’s the dark lurkings and secret nature of the world of Angels that has me turning pages.

Anyway, thanks for getting this far. You should be hearing from me soon, with a review of the sequel, Crescendo.

Until then Blogland!