Tag Archives: monthly round up

November Round Up

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Reading

I finished 12 books in November and got a good chunk of a way into a 13th. Thanks, Thanksgiving vacation! (Seriously, airplane travel = epic reading time.) One book was a reread, one was nonfiction, and three were short story compilations with multiple authors- including one I started reading way back in February.

Reading Diversely

Three of the books were multi-author; 4 of the single authors were male, and 4 were female (with one female author being read twice.) I actually probably read more male authors than I would have normally read, because I’m trying to cut down my tbr and I don’t plan to read any male authors next year.

One of the short story compilations was specifically written by diverse authors from around the world. One of the single authors that I’m aware of is a POC. Three of the books featured QUILTBAG characters, and I was kind of pleasantly surprised by that…but at the same time, God am I tired of the Tragic Bisexual.

Writing

Things are not great in writer land at the moment.

Sometime soon I’ll be tallying up my submission/rejection stats for the year, which I’, sure you’re all just itching for.

TV Junkie

How To Get Away With Murder is going to be the death of me. Viola Davis is earning that Emmy, and as much of a hot mess as that show is, I have to give it props for how well it crafts such a damaged, unstable, complicated middle-aged female character. Women on TV so rarely get to be this complex, and it is wonderful to watch.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to avoid TV. Really into the true crime show A Crime to Remember lately, and my usual sitcoms and cartoons (Adventure Time‘s Marceline miniseries was amazing, btw), but I honestly am trying to stay away from cable.

Mix Tape

I’ve been listening to a ton of Marina and the Diamonds lately. I know, I know, I’m late to the party. But she’s great.

Also: this song. I am so into this song, it’s ridiculous:

 

So wow that’s almost it. This year has flown.

 

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October round up

037

Reading

I finished 9 books in October.

Reading Diversely

Two of the books were nonfiction. Five books were written by women, three by men, and the anthology included various writers. To my knowledge, every book was written by white authors except the authors in that anthology. Three books included QUILTBAG characters…well, a fourth book had a character who was stated to be bi, but that wasn’t really followed up on in any meaningful way (I don’t necessarily need to see characters boning to “prove” they’re queer or anything like that, but in this particular case it was a minor character and a very off-hand mention that felt somewhat forced).

Writing

A couple “close but no”s, a couple stories still in sub, a few quick nos, and one acceptance (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay) that I can’t talk about because I haven’t signed the contract yet.

This month I’ve been participating in a MOOC put together by the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. I’m…still not sure how I feel about it. It’s given me some interesting prompts and projects to work on, but overall I’m feeling quite glad that I ultimately did not go for an MFA. Not that my MA has turned out particularly well for me, but the MFA as I’m seeing it presented feels kind of…hollow, and not at all the writing I want to be doing.

TV Junkie

I finally got around to finishing Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It was interesting and visually stunning but the ending was unsatisfying.

I’ve been really enjoying this season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Fresh Off the Boat. That (and my beloved Bob’s Burgers) means I’ve been laughing quite a bit.

And then there’s How to Get Away With Murder. Which…holy shit. It is so hard to keep straight but it is so crazy good. That guy who plays Caleb is quite the eye-candy. I am in love with Conner & Michaela’s friendship. If anyone hurts Oliver I am going to RAGE. Can Wes be next on the murder menu, cause I’m so over his shtick. There are a lot of plates spinning this season, but I’m really excited that soon we’ll find out who shot Annalise (my money’s on Asher, though I am almost definitely wrong). Which is such a weird thing to say. But I think the flashforward mystery has been more interesting this year than last year.

Mix Tape

Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton.

Wait, what? You want actual, non-theater music?

Sorry, can’t hear you, “The Room Where It Happens” has been stuck in my head for three days.

(mostly kidding. Believe it or not I do listen to other music. But nothing has been new this month except that Adele song, which…eh, I’m going to hear it approximately 10 billion times in the next three months, I assume, so I’m not that into it right now.)

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September Round Up

037

Reading

I finished 11 books in September…and, incidentally, hit 100! I’m working on goals for 2016 will help me read less, because honestly I’m kind of overwhelmed. But this is the earliest in the year I’ve ever hit a hundred reads, so…cool?

Reading Diversely 

7 of the books I read were written by women, 3 by men, and 1 was an anthology of many different writers. One book was nonfiction. The anthology was one of “World SciFi,” so it included translations and people of color, and one other book was written by a non-Westerner.

Writing

Sooooooooooo many rejections. Oh my god, you guys. So many rejections.

I’m dealing with some serious impostor system right now, to be totally honest. But rejections do mean that I’m getting my work out there, which is a big step from just a few years ago. So.

I’m still hashing out the novella that I thought would be done by now. It might not quite make it to novella length. But I’m enjoying it. If I could just finish it.

TV Junkie

How. To. Get. Away. With. Murder. Yaaaaaaas, Queen Viola Davis. I am so looking forward to this insane-seeming season.

Also enjoying Fresh Off the Boat. Other than those two shows I’m kind of trying to stay away from TV right now, though.

Music

Wait what no one told me about Hamilton why not? Songs about historical figures are one of my weird things. A fucking hip hop musical about Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers? THIS IS MY JAM.

No, seriously, guys. Go listen to Hamilton. Go now.

The other thing I’ve been listening to nonstop is (of course) Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon. Perfection.

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August Round Up

037

Reading

I finished ten books in August. Though two were absolutely massive and felt like three books apiece. Seriously. I don’t keep track of wordcounts, but damn, my eyes are crossed from so much reading.

Reading Diversity

Four of the books were men–but two of them were by the same man, so I don’t know what to count that as. One book was in translation, two were nonfiction, and four featured QUILTBAG characters. One book was for my TBR challenge, which I’m steaming along on.

Writing

I submitted three stories this month, with one rejection so far. Having a bit of trouble finishing anything except odd flash pieces. I’ve been having a lot of trouble concentrating so I flit between projects and all of them suffer for it. I’m working on it. But it seems like this is something I’ve worked on without success for years.

No TV or movies or music. Not that my month has been without those things, but it’s the tail-end of summer and nothing has been particularly notable on those fronts. Unless you guys particularly want to hear my thoughts on the really, spectacularly dumb Pegasus episodes of Sailor Moon? (I don’t think I’d ever seen this particular series when I was a kid, and I’m kind of glad, because I’m watching it on Hulu now and it is so terrible. Not that the other series of Sailor Moon are particularly quality examples of sensible storytelling.)

 

These posts are kind of boring checkpoints, aren’t they? Don’t know if I’ll continue with them in 2016.

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July Round Up

037

 

Over halfway through the year already. Whhhhhhhhhat?

Reading

I finished 9 books in July. Most of them I wasn’t wild about, although there were a few good reads. One was an audiobook that I took on a long car trip, something I’m still trying to train myself to enjoy.

Reading Diversity

4 of the books I read were written by men, five by women. I think that’s the most even ratio I’ve achieved. One was in translation (The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu–definitely not my style but I’m glad I tried it out), two were nonfiction, and one was for my TBR challenge.

Writing

Working on short stories, racking up rejections, feeling kind of stuck. But I just started a new thing that I’m really excited about. It just feels like it has its own energy. I’m going to shoot for short story because that’s a bit easier to sell, but it might turn into a novella. I think it really wants to be a graphic novel…but I don’t know how to do that. So for now, short story/novella it is.

Movies

Ant Man! Guys, I love Paul Rudd. I’ve loved Paul Rudd since I was 11. I’ve aged; he hasn’t. But anyway, it was cute.

At home I watched Ex Machina (Creepy, well-shot, very good but annoyed me for reasons I shall not get into here) and Begin Again (a cute musical thing that was very low stakes but had Mark Ruffalo and was very sweet).

 

July had a lot of frustrations for me, honestly. Not really related to books/blogging, but just in general. I’m hoping that August will feel like more of a success.

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June Round Up

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Lots and lots to talk about this month; June was insane. Let’s get down to it.

Reading

I finished 10 books in June. But most of them I actually started in May, so I don’t feel like it was that many. (I definitely am working on too many books at once right now, I should stick to one at a time.)

Reading Diversity

4 of the books I read were by male authors. One was a book in translation. Two featured QUILTBAG characters. 1 was nonfiction, and 1 was a reread.

Writing

It feels like I spent most of this month working on edits for a short story coming out in Strange Horizons soon (more on that later…insert flailing gif in the meantime.) Thing is that I didn’t, but it just feels that way.

I also…drumroll please…finished the Novel of Doom! 66,000 words, which is on the short side, but hey, it’s a crummy first draft. The exciting thing for me is that I was able to make myself sit down and do it. It took just about a year, though not in actual writing time–for a number of months there, I had the whole project shelved. (This was the novel I thought I was going to be able to write during my recovery, when I was sitting at home from work with “nothing to do.” Hah.)

Next comes revision and finding readers and seeing what I can make of this whole thing, but first it’s sitting in a dark drawer for a month, and I’m going to work on some other projects. Got some short stories I’m excited about that are brewing, and I want to keep working on Novel 2.

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TV Junkie

Orphan Black. Aaaaaaaah.

There were some tottering steps this season (there usually are with Orphan Black). I wish they had focused a bit more on the psychology behind the Castor clones, how their self-aware upbringing made them different from Leda, instead of pretty much immediately going out and killing them all. And Cosima’s lesbian dramah…yeah, I’ll pass, thanks. But all in all it was an exciting ride with tons of the great character moments that are the reason I watch it in the first place. (I love especially when they throw together two characters I never would have thought of interacting. Like Helena and Donnie. My favorite moments of the back half of the season were their shenanigans. And what he did for her in the finale…oh my gosh that was adorable.)

I’ve also been watching Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Which has really been interesting because I know I’ve read the book, I’ve been carting it around with each move for years, and yet…I don’t remember a damn thing about it.

Sometimes I Go to the Movies

Spy was really funny. Like, I-spent-more-time-doubled-over-in-my-seat-laughing-than-actually-looking-at-the-screen funny. (Ok…not quite. But almost.) It was a lot cruder than I expected it to be, but it was great watching Melissa McCarthy be a total badass. And Jason Statham was ridiculous, which was awesome cause I’m so used to him playing the straight man. Just altogether a great movie.

Mix Tape

June was bonkers good for new music.

First of all: Floooooooooorence. New Florence + the Machine albums automatically go on my favorites list by now. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is no exception.

Of Monsters and Men have a new album too. I still listen to their debut all the time, it never gets old. I actually don’t know much about the band, but they make quality music that always puts me in a writing mood, to boot.

And wtf, there’s a new Desaparecidos album? Is summer 2015 the season of unexpected sequels? I had no idea that this album even existed until I stumbled across a review…my 18-year-old self is super happy about it. Without getting into the politics or anything…something in me just loves to hear Conor Oberst scream.

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Oh, and one more thing

For my birthday, my mom and I went to see Newsies at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Newsies, man. Me and Newsies have a history. If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, that objectively terrible film would be it, even though I could literally do a shot-for-shot one-woman remake if it came down to it. So I was so excited to see it come to town, and come to town right by my birthday, too. I managed to score front row orchestra tickets. It was spectacular. And even though they changed most of the songs and the story and it didn’t feel as familiar as I thought, it was a great experience. The dancing alone was incredible and worth the ticket. Yay, Newsies!

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May Round Up

037Reading

I finished 9 books this month (but I’m super close to finish like four books right now, so June’s going to be a long list. One was for my TBR list. I missed my nonfiction goal this month, but I’m suuuuuuuuuper close to finishing one right now, so next month will probably have two.

Reading Diversity

5 of the books I read were by men this month. One was by a POC. One was in translation and two featured QUILTBAG characters.

Writing

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TV Junkie

So, Mad Men.

I have a confession to make. I hated the Mad Men finale. Absolutely hated it. I felt like my favorite show of all time had been taken over by fanfic writers. We spent most of the time with Joan (never my favorite character), and Sad Don, and when Peggy/Stan happened, which is something I have literally been wanting for years, it felt so terrible and fake and I just couldn’t stand it.

Sigh. Hopefully I will feel better about it when I see it again. Maybe I’m just being contrary. I hope I am.

In other TV news: wtf Scandal, I am done with you. I finally watched Game of Thrones season 4. It remains problematic, but addictive. I binged the first half of Outlander on Memorial Day and I neeeeed more. (I started to freak out about the cliffhanger thing, and then I was like…wait a minute. I have the book.) I also discovered Fresh Off the Boat on Hulu. And I am pissed at how Call the Midwife ended. Its never been the most subtle of shows and it can be a tad moralizing but I generally find a lot to like in its focus on women’s stories. But then they had to go and do tragic lesbians. No, queer people did not have it particularly easy in the 1960s. Does that mean we have to have a maudlin plotline where one gets hit by a fucking truck and ends up with amnesia two seconds after moving in with her girlfriend? Really?

[I’m still angry.] [And I get too invested in TV].

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Sometimes I go to the Movies

…this month it was a lot. May was a really great month for movies. In theaters I caught The Avengers AoU, Pitch Perfect 2, and Mad Max: Fury Road. Loved all of them. Some of the jokes in Pitch Perfect really didn’t land, but those movies remind me of going to a women’s college (even though the college in the films is co-ed), and its all sisterhood and the power of women’s friendships and yes the big number at the end did kind of make me cry. AoU had its problems but didn’t deserve the vitriol the internet gave it. Plus: I’ll take the Falcon any which way I can get him even if it is for a total of fifteen seconds. Mad Max…I never thought I would like a movie like this. Blew. Me. Away. Not so much for the action and car chases, which I’m sure were technically great and will please fans of those things…but for the story structure, and the characterization, and for Furiosa.

May was a good month overall. I hope that June continues the pattern!

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April Round Up

037

 

April has been interesting. Not least because I managed to not buy a single book. None at all! Why am I bragging about this on a book blog? Well, I decided that it was irresponsible of me to keep spending money on books when I have so many sitting on the shelf being ignored. And while I didn’t make a huge dent in the pile, my bank account is happier with me than its been for a while.

Of course in May that’s all going to go to shit, but I tried.

Reading

I finished 11 books this month. Two were nonfiction, one was for the TBR Pile challenge. My favorite for the month was Station Eleven. 

Reading Diversity

I read one male author and ten female authors this month. Two authors (to my knowledge) were WOC and two of the books were in translation.

Writing

Guys. I’m writing Novel of Doom again.

I don’t quite know how it happened. I do know that somehow I spent four freaking months away from this book. But out of nowhere, I suddenly wanted to go back to the world. So I did.

I’ve crossed the 40,000 word mark which is…not a lot, but it’s probably the most words of one thing I’ve ever written, and is actually, coherently novel-shaped (at least, I think). From where I’m at now I’m projecting that I’ve got about 30 or 35 thousand more words left in it. But I’m pumped. I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. Even if nothing ever comes of it in the wider world, this is a story that has been in my brain for most of my life, so seeing it take actual, rational, coherent shape is amazing.

Short stories have been less cooperative this month. Some random flashes floating around, and on the bigger stuff I never can seem to write a decent ending. Ho hum. Novel thing #2 is shelved for a bit while I ponder research I must do for it. I think I’m going to have to visit Boston. Good job, self, setting a novel in a city you hated living in.

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TV Junkie

ORPHAN BLACK IS BACK. I am so, so excited! Only two episodes in so far, but it has been fantastic.

My TV habits have actually paid off extraordinarily well this month. Better Call Saul, The Americans and Vikings all went out on strong notes. Mad Men’s swan song is making me get out of bed each Sunday, Scandal is…look, can we please just make it the Mellie Grant show already?, and Call the Midwife is back, too. Call the Midwife has succeeded in making me cry at least once per episode for four  seasons now. It turns me into an emotional train wreck. And yet I can’t stop watching it.

And then there is Orphan Black. I rewatched the first two seasons before it came back and it was even better than I remembered. And with each new episode, they are definitely pushing things, and I love it so far. I’ll stay vague like that for the time being except I have to say one thing that might push your spoiler boundaries if you’re sensitive so look away now-ish…Alison trying to become a drug lord is probably the most Alison thing she’s ever done and I love it. Out of all the awesome stuff in the past two episodes, that has been my favorite development. Team Hendrix and their ample stones all the way.

About the only thing I’m missing right now is Game of Thrones. But I’m already a season + behind, and I’m starting to think that I’ll wait for the show to reach its end before I go back to finish it.

And that is April. May is going to be a super busy month, with book readings and a convention to attend. And then in June I’m seeing The Decemberists and Newsies in the course of like a week. Busy, busy little bee over here.

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March Round Up

037

Reading

In March I read 14 books. This particular bit of insanity, as opposed to last months, is due to anxiety. Anxiety: when you can barely leave the house and don’t like to remember that you are an adult, hey, at least there’s fiction.

Lots of short story collections this month. Stuck to my goal of doing one nonfiction and one for the TBR challenge. Participated in one read along, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

Reading Diversity

Three of the authors I read this month were male, eleven female. All, to my knowledge, were white. I am not doing particularly well on the author diversity front at the moment.

Three of the books included QUILTBAG characters in some form, but one in a way that pissed me off so much that I almost threw my nook off the balcony. It was Kerry Greenwood’s Cocaine Blues and I was really disappointed and angered by it. The main character was a sexually liberated woman in the 1920s which would have been fantastic, if Greenwood didn’t decide that she needed to contrast that by having an asexual villain, who of course was presented as evil specifically because she didn’t like sex. If only she was a lesbian, the heroine mused, wouldn’t that be so much better than her being an evil, sexless prude?

Yeah. Won’t be reading any more of that series.

Writing

It’s been a pretty flat month for writing because I’m anxious about some things. I submitted one story and have not finished anything. I’m writing every day but it’s usually only a sentence or two. I’m way too much in my own head right now.

Novel 2 is at about 25000 words and sort of stalled. 25-30K words seems to be where I stall on large projects, pretty predictably. I’ll get through it but I’m annoyed. And also predictably, since I’m sort of stuck on Novel 2, I’ve randomly decided to start notes on another long project idea from my idea folder. I like the beginnings of things. I’m still not so good on the follow through.

TV Junkie

I’m so sad about Vikings, guys. First Siggy and then Athelstan. It was beautifully done, but that doesn’t mean I’m not wrecked about it.

The Americans continues to amaze. Scandal continues to piss me off. (If I have to see Fitz and Olivia give each other one more longing glance I’m going to hurl). And I’m waiting not-so-patiently for Mad Men and Orphan Black. That’s about it on the TV front these days.

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Sometimes I go to the Movies

Not often. It’s expensive and rarely worth it; truthfully I don’t even like watching movies at home all that much. But this month for my best friend’s birthday I took her to see Cinderella. That is far from my favorite Disney cartoon so I didn’t particularly have high expectations, but for what it was, I ended up adoring it. And what it was was glitter and butterflies and a gorgeous ballroom scene and costume porn and Richard Madden’s dreamy eyes filling the screen for inordinate amounts of time. All wins in my book.

Mix Tape

The Americans got me on a Fleetwood Mac kick so thanks. I’ve also been listening to a lot a lot a lot of Van Morrison. That’s about it for the month of music, nothing particularly new or exciting.

That’s it this time around. I am ready for April and spring.

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February Round Up

037

Reading

I read 15 books in February. This insanity is brought to you by snow days where I had no idea what to do with myself. My TBR shelf thanks you, snow days.

One was nonfiction, one was a reread, and one was a novella. My favorite reads for the month were N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance novella, “The Awakened Kingdom,” and Code Name Verity.

Reading Diversity

I only read two male authors this month: a collection of nonfiction essays by Isaac Asimov, and a novel by John Scalizi. Three of the authors I read were (to my knowledge) women of color. Four books prominently featured QUILTBAG characters.

Writing

I submitted five short stories in February. Still waiting on a response from one January sub. I didn’t do as good a job keeping track of what I actually finished this month…but then, I didn’t really finish much. Mostly I’ve been puttering on some new and old short story projects.

The new novel…thing unexpectedly became 15000 words. I had planned to do a lot more research before sitting down to write this novel, but since it seems to be going well I’m going to try and bang out a short draft and then fill in the blanks, so to speak, later. Novel of Doom remains stagnant. I know why, I’ve just been unwilling to deal with it thus far.

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TV Junkie

There was a lot of great TV this month, as some things started and some things ended. I’m glad to report that I’m still totally besotted with Vikings, though I am in mourning for Ragnar’s hair. I’m also completely on the edge of my seat when watching The Americans. I may or may not have cried during the finale for Agent Carter (ok, so I did cry. Big time. For Howard fucking Stark, goddamn it.) And I was incredibly impressed with the big reveals on How to Get Away With Murder…and not sure how I’m ever going to stand waiting six months for more. (Although I really hate them for what they did to Oliver. I hate them so much.)

The big surprise for me this month, however, has been Better Call Saul. I didn’t particularly have any expectations for it. I loved the whole run of Breaking Bad, but I didn’t really think I needed more of that world. I actually thought Saul was going to be kind of campy and unnecessary.

Wrong. It is genius. Pure genius. It is incredibly dark, very black comedy. It is of course beautifully shot. (One thing I did really miss from Breaking Bad was the cook montages…apparently these are being replaced with lawyering montages, which sounds kind of silly, but the one they’ve done so far was great.) My thesis so far is that Jimmy (Saul) is meant to be an oppositional figure to Walter White. He’s facing some similar issues (not exact parallels, but similar), to what Walt did in the beginning, but whereas Walt is a villain from the beginning of the show (none of that good man corrupted bunk–Walt is awful from the start, just more petty about it when he is powerless), Jimmy seems to have this earnest goodness behind his actions that I didn’t expect, and totally love. Of course, we all know where it gets him, but I think I’ll like seeing him on the ride.

Also: Mike! Mike Ehrmantraut is back scowling on my TV! How is that any kind of bad thing?

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Mix Tape

I have not listened to much new music this month. Mostly, because I’ve been working on the new novel thing I’ve been listening to the soundtrack I have for that, which is a sort of odd but fitting mix of sixties folk, eighties pop, and more modern, female-led stuff like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lorde, Haim, and Lana del Rey. I did listen to the new Belle & Sebastian, which I liked (especially The Party Line), but not much else new.

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