When Your Novel Is A Mess…

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about my editing. I’ve been editing this novel for a while and while it’s been slow going, it is coming along. And that’s a good thing!

Then, tonight I looked at the first part as a whole and I think it’s just to dang long. I need to have the first plot point come sooner—a lot sooner. Conventionally, it should be at around the twenty-five percent mark and mine comes a lot later.

I don’t know if this means moving scenes from the first act into the second act, or cutting them altogether. I’ll probably need a combination of both.

Why does editing have to be so incredibly hard?! Also, why couldn’t I have learned anything useful about editing in school? Seriously, despite all the writing I learned over the years, I don’t think I learned a single useful thing about editing my own writing. But that’s a story for another time.

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Summer 2018 Writing Report

Apparently, I have been so remiss in posting my writing reports that the last one was in April of this year! That’s crazy! I knew I’d missed posting June and July and obviously August just ended, so that one isn’t up, either, but I thought I’d done May.

Therefore, I decided to do a massive writing report for the four months of May, June, July, and August. September will (hopefully) be by itself, assuming I remember to post it!

May

May was… not the best month for writing—in my defense, I did take a vacation! Vacation is an excellent excuse not to write. I was editing that month, too, which brings down the total words produced. Vomiting words onto the page for a first draft and editing those words are two completely different stages of writing. It’s way easier to get high word counts with the former than the latter. Anyway, I wrote a total of only 1,683 words that month. That’s an average of 54 per day. I only wrote on ten days during the month, though, so it makes sense my word count would be lower.

June

June wasn’t much better, at least according to the writing log. I wrote a total of 3,877 words that month, which is an average of 129 per day. However, I was outlining a future novel with pen and paper, so those words did not get counted in the log. Counting words by hand is very tedious! Including those days I was outlining, I wrote on sixteen days during the month, which isn’t too bad.

July

July was a bit better. I wrote 6,243 words total, which makes for an average of 201 words per day. I also did some outlining that didn’t make it into the log. I went back to editing that month (in June, when I realized the structure of my novel wasn’t working, I took a temporary break from editing because I was so overwhelmed—I really, really, really wish they took the time to teach proper editing in school, as that would be a useful skill to have been taught). Including the days I outlined, I wrote on sixteen days, just like in June.

August

August was a very good month. In fact, it was the best I’ve had in a while, writing-wise. I wrote a total of 18,337 words, which is an average of 591 per day. Not too bad, if I don’t say so myself! And how did I accomplish this? I started writing every day. Since August 12, I have written every day. I wrote for twenty-seven days in August.

I was so tired of not writing and not having the motivation to write, so I vowed I would start doing it again every day. My only two rules are: 1) I have to work on something every day and produce at least 500 new words, and 2) I have to finish what I start. I was having trouble editing my novel, so I wrote some short stories instead, which was fun. Now I’m back to editing the novel. I may take another break, if necessary—but I’ll be working on short stories if I decide to pause my editing again.

And I just realized that I’ve only written about 300 words today, so I need to go write 200 more so I don’t break my streak!

A Very Knitty Day

I had an excellent day today, dear readers. I spent nearly the whole day knitting. When I wasn’t knitting, I was cleaning (no fun!), walking outside (definitely fun), and trying a new recipe (it tastes great, so that was fun too). All in all, it was a supremely satisfying day. I’m actually considering just not going online that much anymore and redirecting that time towards knitting. Doing crafts is a lot more fun than seeing tweets pop up in my Twitter timeline about the latest inane controversy, or seeing people post photos on Instagram of how amazing their lives are, even when I know that behind the Instagram facade, they’re miserable.

What is not so excellent is my neglect of this blog… I meant to write some posts but didn’t. At least I’m on a big fiction writing streak right now. I have written at least five hundred words every day since August 12. It may not seem like much, but all that consistency adds up. I’ve written two short stories since then! They’re both science fiction and set in the same universe. One of them leaves off on a huge cliffhanger, so I need to write the sequel soon. I have no idea what’s going to happen, so I’m in suspense, too. Sometimes my characters really surprise me.

To Continue? Or Not To Continue?

…that is the question.

No, dear readers, I’m not talking whether to continue writing this blog or not. I’m talking about a book I checked out of the library last week.

Do I like this book? Or don’t I? That is (also) the question.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ve probably gathered I’m a fast reader. I actually have to force myself to slow down and enjoy books sometimes, as opposed to completely inhaling them. That’s why it’s surprising that this book, The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville, is taking me forever to get through. I’ve had it for a whole five days now and I’m maybe a third of the way through, if that.

It’s odd because though I don’t dislike the book, I also don’t love it. I feel completely neutral about it. It is an odd book because though it’s supposed to be a sequel to The Afrika Reich, which I also read, you don’t really need to have read the first book to read this book.

I have yet to decide whether to finish it or not. I keep reading bits and pieces of it sporadically. By the time I do decide whether it’s worth finishing, I’ll probably already be done and there won’t be a decision to make then.

Watch Live Russian TV On YouTube!

All these years of studying Russian, dear readers, and how could I have forgotten this amazing resource: live Russian TV on YouTube. Both Russia 24 and NTV have live streams.

I haven’t found any other Russian channels with live streaming (yet), but there is a ton of other Russian content on YouTube as well. I haven’t actually watched a lot of Russian stuff on YouTube as of late, so I’ve been rediscovering all sorts of Russian goodies on there. I’m rather partial to Russian documentaries, too, and there are a ton of those on YouTube.

I put a red box around it just because. Click to see larger.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the nasty little notice YouTube tacked on below the Russia 24 live stream. In fact, I think it’s below all Russia 24 videos. It reads “VGTRK is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government” and includes a link to Wikipedia about VGTRK (VGTRK is the abbreviation of the holding company of Russia 24). Thanks a lot, YouTube. I wonder if they put a notice below videos from leftist American media outlets that says “this company is a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party.” Somehow, I think not, and that’s too bad because such information is more valid and relevant than what is provided on the Russia-24 video.

Charlotte’s Biggest Fan

No, I’m not talking about a little green parakeet named Charlotte—I’m talking about the British author Charlotte Brontë, who is one of my favorite writers.

Thanks to me, two of my coworkers are now reading Jane Eyre (it’s only the best book ever). I’m happy that I had a long, extended conversation with these two coworkers about the merits of the Brontë sisters and their work. We came to the conclusion that Charlotte is our favorite sister and that the Brontë sisters’ work is much easier to read than Jane Austen’s. Not that I don’t love Jane Austen, but sometimes I do find her prose a little… turgid.

Unmotivated & Demoralized

I have something to confess to you, dear readers. Going to work has been a real struggle recently.

It’s going to sound like I’m dwelling and obsessing, which probably is true, but I have felt so, so, so unmotivated ever since a very undeserving person received a promotion back in April. Seriously, just getting up in time to get to work has been such a struggle. I mean, why rush if she barely shows up and gets promoted anyway, right?

It’s also frustrating because I’m getting a bit bored with my position. I’ve been doing it long enough that I’ve got things down. I’ve improved so, so much since starting at this job. I’m ready for the next level. I’m also not expecting it to happen. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s just so… frustrating.

Remember the undeserving person in question who managed to get that promotion? (I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but she started at the company around the same time I did and until the promotion this April, we were at the same level.) Guess how much she worked last week, the week of July 23? Have a number in your head? Maybe you’re thinking 5 days, like a normal work week?

Well, dear reader, you would be wrong. She worked a grand total of 1.5 days. Yes, you read that right. One-and-a-half days. Yet she gets promoted to the next level up. If I don’t deserve a promotion, she definitely doesn’t.

Okay, rant over. I promise we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming concerning books I’ve read, writing projects I’m working on, and random fun things from my life next time I write a blog post. I just had to vent about this and get it off my chest.

(Unless you like reading about work drama. If you like posts like this, I can definitely oblige and give you more. Believe me, there’s more where it came from… 😉 )

Spoilerific Review of ‘Thrawn: Alliances’

You guys, I wrote my Goodreads review, as promised! It is full of spoilers—seriously, if you don’t want to know a lot about the story, don’t read this! I’ll say it again: there are a ton of spoilers in this review! Proceed with caution! 🙂

Thrawn:  AlliancesThrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time. (Anticipation tends to make time drag out.) It did not disappoint.

Even though this book is a sequel to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn, you really don’t need to have read the first one to understand this. (You should read it, though, because it’s AMAZING. Seriously, Thrawn single-handedly turned me into a Star Wars fan.) Eli Vanto is mentioned once, and Commodore Faro showed up at the end of the previous book, but that’s about it. Instead, this book has references to some of the prequel trilogy, to other books, and to the TV shows Clone Wars and Rebels (I haven’t seen the shows, so I discovered that by looking up a few things I didn’t understand).

Random obscure references can be frustrating, but don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’s excellent. I really enjoyed the interactions between Thrawn and his crew—he really is a good leader, so much so that I wish managers at work would emulate him more—as well as Thrawn and Vader, past and present. Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Darth Vader is in this book (he is a main character, as you can probably tell from the cover) and Zahn writes him well. I could hear all of his blunt, pithy statements being said in James Earl Jones’ voice from the movies.

I really enjoyed how Vader didn’t want to reveal his past. A few times, Thrawn makes reference to the fact that they met before, which Vader denies. By the end of the book, Thrawn knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Of course, the two of them don’t have some heart-to-heart about this. But I still enjoyed seeing this mystery play out.

Another unexpected part of this book was the inclusion of Padmé. I love Padmé! Unfortunately, her sections were the weakest, mainly because Zahn had so little to work with concerning her. The Star Wars canon has never done her justice, unfortunately. The good news is Zahn did the best he could with what he had—you’ve got to start somewhere.

By the end of the book, we discover a big secret about the Chiss—they navigate through hyperspace using Force-sensitive kids, whose strength in the Force diminishes as they grow older. These children, some of whom were kidnapped by the Grysk, a new species of alien, were the source of the disturbance Palpatine felt at the beginning of the novel. Thrawn and Vader have completed their mission and developed a grudging respect for each other. (Seriously, one of the most entertaining aspects of the this book is seeing Vader snipe at poor Thrawn for almost the entire time.) Vader promises to back Thrawn’s TIE Defender project. Thrawn says the emperor is interested in expanding the Empire to the Unknown Regions, something Thrawn is an expert in. The threads are all wrapped up by the end of this book, unlike in the prior one. I’m not sure where Zahn will go with a third book, if there is one (and I dearly hope there will be because MORE THRAWN).

Final verdict: if you’re a Star Wars fan, a Thrawn fan, a Vader fan, or all of the above, you will enjoy this. I wasn’t very happy with some of the references I didn’t understand, but those are few and far between and do not take away from the story.

View all my reviews

‘Thrawn: Alliances’ Was As Good As I Expected

Cue the music, everyone. Perhaps the Imperial March from Star Wars is appropriate, because the book I’ve been waiting for since last October is here.

At long last, Thrawn: Alliances was released into the world this past Tuesday (four days ago). The library copies arrived and were processed into the system, so on Thursday morning, I went to the library to collect the copy I’d reserved.

Here it is sitting on my coffee table!

I read it and finished it already! I’ll probably write a spoilerific review on Goodreads at some point, but my overall impression is that it’s decent. Timothy Zahn took the story in a direction I didn’t expect, but that’s not a bad thing.

I expected the book to be a direct sequel to Zahn’s prior book Thrawn, but that wasn’t really the case. In fact, I think you could easily read Thrawn: Alliances without having read Thrawn, which I find very odd. I was hoping some of the unresolved problems from Thrawn would be explained, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps there will be a third book to tie it all together. (We can hope!)

Edited to add: According to this interview, Zahn has pitched two sequels! Thrawn: Alliances was one of them, so there could be a third book in the future!

Another thing that was unexpected about Thrawn: Alliances is it’s not a very good entry point into the Star Wars universe. I read Thrawn without ever having read a Star Wars book. I hadn’t seen most of the movies, either, but it still made perfect sense. I didn’t get that same feeling with Thrawn: Alliances. If you try to jump into the Star Wars universe with this one, you’ll probably be confused. I was confused about some references, to be honest.

So was it worth the wait? I’d say yes. Seeing Thrawn and Darth Vader sniping at each other (okay, let’s be honest, most of the sniping is coming from Darth Vader’s side) was pretty funny. And this dedication is priceless. I even took a picture of it because it made me laugh.

I’m so glad Timothy Zahn has a sense of humor!.

As scary as this sounds, I’ve worked with people more horrible than Darth Vader was in this book. Just pointing that out, in case anyone was wondering. There was a reason I left my previous toxic job…

The Romanovs

Well, everyone, late last night/early this morning was the big anniversary. One hundred years ago, the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, was murdered in a cellar along with his wife, children, and some of their loyal servants. Paul over at Royal Russia has a nice tribute. This post I wrote back in 2016 remains one of my favorites (and relates to Tsar Nicholas). You can see some photos of Nicholas I posted both here and here.

And I shall leave you with the national anthem of the Russian Empire, “God Save the Tsar.” It’s been one of my favorite national anthems ever since I heard it years ago. I remembered to embed a version with English subtitles this year. I’m pretty sure the version I used last year had only Russian subtitles!

A hundred years is a long time to be gone. I wonder what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t been murdered in a basement that night.