Friday, December 30, 2016

December Round-up, End of Year Check-in, and 2017 Goals

Starting with the round-up!

Words written YTD: 59,195 on two and a half projects (Paranormal Investigations novels, a prequel short story that didn't really go where I wanted it to, and Novel Wars (my Nano)) - that's right, I managed a full month without writing. It was awful.

Writer-ly things accomplished: Not a blessed thing, unless you count realizing that not writing is not OK.

New books read: Pounce (aka a book of kitty pictures that needs to be available at all times); January/February 2016 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; When Books Went to War (I know I've already reviewed it, but short summary, I loved it); Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (not my favorite Mary Roach, but interesting for all that); The Prophecy Con (Book two of Rogues of the Republic aka Fantasy A-Team); Lumberjanes #22-23; Pirate King (Russell and Holmes take on the Pirates of Penzance, which left me humming the Major General's song); and Beekeeping for Beginners (Russell and Holmes, the early days).

Old books re-read: The Jennifer Morgue & The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files 2-3); Grave Peril (Dresden Files 3); The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl 2); Searching for Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles 2, which still holds up beautifully).

Well, if nothing else, I certainly read more this month. Now, on to the 2016 goals that I'm pretty sure I missed:

  • Complete draft of book 2 of Paranormal Investigations
    • Due:  March 31, 2016
    • Q1 status:  I should really restate this as "fill in the gap between books 1 and 2 of Paranormal Investigations", and it's still in process.
    • New due date: July 31, 2016
    • Q2 status: This is the goal for this Camp Nano, so we'll see if we can actually finish filling the gap this month.
    • Q3 status: Ish? I've reached a good stopping point and realized that enough changed in book 1 that book 2 basically needs to start over again. I'll call this one complete (as restated in Q1), with redrafting book 2 as the plan for Nanowrimo
    • New goal: Complete draft 0 of book 2 of Paranormal Investigations
    • New due date: December 31, 2016
    • Q4 status: AHAHAHA no.
  • Complete draft of Church of Books
    • Due:  September 30, 2016
    • Q1 status: I haven't even touched this one in a while. I'll keep the date as is for now.
    • Q2 status: Same as Q1
    • Q3 status: Yeah, that didn't go according to plan. I've spent the year focusing on PII, so this one is off to the side. This will get moved to next year.
    • Q4 status: See Q3 update.
  • Complete edit of Paranormal Investigations
    • Due:  December 31, 2016
    • Q1 status:  In process
    • Q2 status:  In process
    • Q3 status:  In process (so many notes on my draft 0 of book 1, many of which involve asking Past Stephanie just what the devil she was thinking)
    • Q4 status: made it through draft 0 of book 1, but haven't had the wherewithal to go back and start fixing things.
  • Complete draft of one of the works started for a Nano
    • Due:  December 31, 2016
    • Q1 status:  In process, as Paranormal Investigations started as a Nano
    • Q2 status:  In process, looking better with each day of sitting and actually getting some words on the dang page
    • Q3 status:  I'm going to call this complete, with PII book 1 as a complete draft 0. Go team me!
    • Q4 status: Done!
  • Complete at least one Nano
    • Due:  November 30, 2016
    • Q1 status:  COMPLETE!
    • Q2 status:  Trying for number 2!
    • Q3 status:  Didn't make number 2; revving up for number 3
    • Q4 status:  Well, I made it for one.
  • Submit at least one story for publication
    • Due:  December 31, 2016
    • Q1 status:  I have ideas, ever so many ideas...keeping the date as is for now.
    • Q2 status:  I may come back to the short story I was fiddling with post-Camp Nano, or I may try for something completely different. Who knows? Not me!
    • Q3 status:  Uh, we'll see. I haven't even thought short fiction in a couple of months.
    • Q4 status:  And again, AHAHAHA no.
Clearly, setting these kinds of big goals just isn't working for me. I need to break things down into manageable chunks, else everything's going to be "AHAHAHA no" next year.

  • PII book 1 editing
    • Go through notes on at least one scene every two weeks, incorporating changes and noting bigger changes for later
  • Novel Wars drafting
    • One character study per month, including interviews, background, list of favorite books/least favorite books, and for the novelists, best writing atmosphere
  • Other drafting
    • Read through existing works in progress, choose one to work on for each Camp Nanowrimo (April and July)
Looking at it like that, I think it's doable. For now, at least. We'll see what the first quarter of 2017 brings. (Incidentally, anyone else super gun-shy about the new year? I'm almost afraid to say "Happy New Year" in case 2017 hears me and takes it as a challenge.)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Food memories

(A quick note - I'm still here! The holidays took me away from the blogosphere for a bit, but I'm back now.)

Lately I've been thinking about food. It's not surprising, given the holidays and how much our traditions revolve around food (Thanksgiving dinner, making candy for Christmas, that sort of thing), but just cooking with my husband made me think of the ways my parents worked to include me in the making of the family meals.

There were two big things that my parents made that were considered "their things" - Dad's pizza, and Mom's "full-blown Mexican". The pizza was one of the first things I learned how to make, mostly because I kept bothering my father, asking if it was ready yet. That was how I got involved in a lot of cooking, actually, was by being annoying.

Mom's food was essentially her version of the food she learned from her mother - taco meat, Spanish rice, flour tortillas, and various other foods depending on how big the meal was going to be. One of my clearest memories was being given the huge responsibility of seasoning the taco meat on my own, unsupervised. It was one of the earliest moments of pride that I can remember, when Mom tasted the meat and told me I had seasoned it perfectly.

It's the little things that make a life, which is something to remember when creating characters and when dealing with other people in general. Everyone has those memories that don't seem to mean much outside of their own heads, but are incredibly precious to them.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book Review - When Books Went to War

So, you could say that I'm a big fan of most things literary. Books are one of those things that have always been important to me, and asking me if I like reading is like asking if like breathing - I need it to live. But I've never felt able to put into words the importance of books as a whole, not just to me but to society at large.

When Books Went to War does a marvelous job of putting words around the idea that wars of ideas are just as powerful as the physical fighting. It describes how the US, in the form of a council of publishers and the War Department, took control of the war of ideas on the Allied front during World War II. The council published books specifically to be sent overseas to be given to the soldiers fighting, thus providing entertainment and new ideas to people who may not remember why they're fighting. It also helped publishers popularize the paperback book, a format that had been seen as the purview of pulps and dimestore novels.

One of the fascinating things is how the publishers worked together, forgoing their own profits in order to make these editions and sell them at cost to the military in order to send them overseas. In addition, it made a generation of readers out of men who may only have looked at the headlines of newspapers before. It gave the soldiers a safe way to vent their emotions in an era when men weren't meant to show any sign of weakness or emotion. The publishers even worked to publish books that would help the soon to be demobilized soldiers with their return to civilian life, offering ways to make the skills they had learned into something they could use at home.

The story may begin with one of the biggest book burnings in Germany, but it ends with the high note of how many books were published and disseminated over the course of the war. The stories from the soldiers are heartfelt and heart-breaking, and overall, it's an uplifting book that reminds us that while we may be afraid, we will have the ability to fight a war of ideas so long as we have the words to spread them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

November Round-Up

November is finished. I didn't make it on Nanowrimo, which isn't all that surprising. I do like the characters I created, so I think I'm going to continue the story and see what happens.

Words written YTD: 59,195 on two and a half projects (Paranormal Investigations novels, a prequel short story that didn't really go where I wanted it to, and Novel Wars (my Nano)) - a small bump in preparation for, well, tomorrow.

Writer-ly things accomplished: Most of what I created for Nano ended up being character development, which is always fun. It gives me ideas...*cackle*

New books read: Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners (this was so glorious, and similarly terrifying); Origins of the Specious (a book on word origins - fun, though a little dry); The Palace Job (billed as Leverage meets high fantasy, comes across more like the A-Team meets high fantasy; I enjoyed it a great deal)

Old books re-read: Storm Front and Fool Moon (Dresden 1-2); The Atrocity Archives and The Concrete Jungle (Laundry Files 1-1.5); Dealing With Dragons (one of my favorite books from childhood, and re-reading it has shown me so many things that I missed when I first read it)