Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Draft Zero, Life, Unnamed (Book 3), Writing

Hello Twitter, My Old Friend

I just finished a six week hiatus from Twitter. Or at least an attempted hiatus. To be honest, I dipped my toe in a few times with the excuse of checking DM’s only to get swept up into reading a few tweets before realizing what I was doing. But my slip-ups only reaffirmed my need for a break. Twitter is designed to be highly addictive and I clearly wasn’t immune.

Being away has given me a new perspective on Twitter and – hopefully – a new way to approach the site. My FOMO was pretty high those first few days (*coughs*weeks) but in the end, I didn’t miss as much as I’d expected. I still heard all the news and was able to celebrate some acquaintances accomplishments. If anything, being off Twitter helped me have a healthier relationship with the news, as often I’d learn about Things What Had Happened somewhat after the fact and therefore had a chance to understand the whole of it, instead of getting everyone’s instant, kneejerk reactions.

But I don’t want to drop Twitter entirely. It is useful in keeping in touch with a number of far-flung friends, and while I read my news on actual news websites now, a lot of publishing news happens on Twitter, so it’s a good idea to keep the ear to the bird, if you will.

To keep that bird from nibbling my ear and distracting me from writing, though, I’m going to set a few rules for myself.

One: as many news-related terms as possible are gonna be muted. I rode that rollercoaster all last year and it’s time to get off because I’m tired of the motion sickness.

Two: I’ve installed a new blocking app that will only let me on Twitter at certain times. No more endless scrolling.

Three: I will engage more than I post.

And four: if I have a thought that is more than a tweet, it will be a blog post, not a thread. There’s something to be said for the lost art of blogging and I aim to keep this space alive as much as possible.

Of course all that also means that if you catch me breaking any of those rules feel free to publicly shame me. ūüėČ

*

Here’s current progress on Book Three, working title The Unconquered City, the story of an assassin turned monster hunter who’s really sick of people threatening her city. Now with more! necromancy, large bodies of water, and sudden, yet inevitable betrayals.

Project: Book Three, Draft 0.5

Deadline: August

Current word count: 50,017 out of 80,000

Cats scritched: Two

Cadbury eggs consumed: One

Toddlers chased screeching around the house: Yes

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Life, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

10 Years of The Tucson Festival of Books

#TFOB, my #TFOB, how I love thee so.

When we moved to Tucson, the Festival of Books was still in its toddlerhood. We went during its 3rd year and it was already huge and drawing in ginormous crowds and interesting/well-known/actual authors. I wandered between tables of books and lecture halls of guest speakers under a brilliant blue sky, taking in the scent of citrus blossoms along with the cinnamon almonds, and found home.

I volunteered the next three years and somehow fell in love with TFOB a bit more each time.

It’s an amazing celebration of books. Every year I’d find new authors – I credit TFOB 100% with my Seanan McGuire collection, since that’s where I first paused and picked up Rosemary and Rue. Every year I’d sit in on an interesting panel. And best of all – it was all free. You could wander in and wander out at will (ideally not the panels, at least try to be courteous geez). You could drop in for some fresh donuts and the University tent or you could plan your weekend around panels and talks and signings.

They even have bees.

I mean, Science City, the other half of #TFOB, has bees. To look at. As well as other science-y activities. I’m sure there are wild bees throughout because of all the citrus blossoms, but I digress.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Festival of Books and I dropped in for a bit because we were in Tucson for the week and I was delighted to see that it was still the same old TFOB. So many books. So many people. So many bees. I mean books. I mean bees. I mean both?

Oh Tucson, how I miss thee.

So all that’s to say that recent progress on Book 3 aka working title The Unconquered City is, uh, nil. Because I was frolicking amongst the cacti and well, it’s hard to type and frolic is what I mean.

But! I did manage to finish Book 1 aka The Perfect Assassin‘s copyedits and turn those in so, yay?

Yay.

Okay going back to dreaming of cacti and books now.

Life, Pre-pub

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

IMG_20171225_080831_947

If you ask any writer (or artist [or human being]), they’ll say that 2017 was a rough year. Full of distractions and worry and dread. Yet despite all of that, we kept on keeping on. I’m not exception – while I wasted countless hours on what-ifs and not sleeping, the work still had to be done. And it got done.

But man, am I exhausted. Hopefully 2018 will be a little less emotionally draining.

But 2017 wasn’t all bad. Personally, it was pretty great. My highlights:

– Wrote the first draft of Book One
– Wrote the second draft of Book One
– Revised Book One
– Sent Book One out to betas
– Revised Book One based on beta feedback
– Sent Book One to my editor
– Revised Book One based on my editor’s feedback
– Turned in Book One (ūüéČūüéČūüéČ)
– Hacked 20,000 words off of Book Two
– Going line by line, entirely rewrote Book Two
– 2/3rds way through first draft of Book Three

 

And that’s only the writing highlights. Outside of that, I also:

– Broke my personal 5k record
– Turned 31
– Took a baby to Germany and survived
– Attended my first conference (Sirens ’17 wot wot!)
– Dayjobbed the stuffing out of my dayjob
– Learned how to throw a proper punch
– Held back the tides of unwashed dishes and dirty laundry
– Kept a baby alive and helped her evolve into a toddler

 

Writing it out like that makes it seem as if I was riding the waves, but at the time it felt like I was drowning more often than not. 2018 should be better (and easier?) for a number of reasons, not the least of which we’ll have a toddler and not an infant who refuses to sleep more than 45min at a time (oh god never again).

2018 is actually shaping up to be pretty fun/exciting for me, personally. And maybe for you, at least come the end of the year. So what have I got going in 2018?

– Polish up Book Two
– See/reveal the cover for Book One (!!)
– Write, rewrite, revise, edit, & polish Book Three
– Hit up Tucson Festival of Books
– Sirens 2018 (!!)
– Bid farewell to my lovely desert assassins and start a new project
– Keep a small human alive

 

Yeah. Okay. No small task. But if I survived 2017 and all it entailed, I can certainly survive – even thrive in? – 2018.

May you let 2017 go and embrace the new year with hope and light. ‚̧

Life

Updates and Sundry

Fall foliage
Autumnal!

Quite a maelstrom of change has swept through the Doore household since I last updated. I announced that I was pregnant, mentioned we were moving to Michigan, waxed poetic about the Sonoran desert and then – disappeared. You can probably guess what has happened in the meantime.

Now we’re settled in Michigan and have survived the first few, bootcamp-esque weeks of life with a newborn. Life is not so much calming down, but more finding a new rhythm, and that rhythm includes 3am blog posts and writing sessions. So be it.

I’ll have quite a bit to explore here soon – there’s a new story brewing, new research to be shared, and a whole lot of thoughts about creativity and pregnancy. But in the mean time, I hope a cute baby pic will suffice.

Baby Doore Reads

Life

Desert Appreciation: This Ridiculous Heat

Apparently even the national news has picked up on how friggin hot Arizona is right now. I mean, it’s typical for June to see temps above 105, even 110, but we just broke a record: 115, making yesterday the third hottest day on record.

Go us.

But for real, though: as atrocious as this heat is, it makes the rest of the year that much sweeter, and turns¬†the arrival of monsoon season into a welcome relief instead of a humid slog. June is a harsh month, when the temps can jump from 80 to 90 to 110 within a few days and stepping outside is equivalent to stepping into an oven. But it’s only a month.

Without June, we wouldn’t have monsoons. I’m not 100% sure how the meteorology works, but the building heat somehow draws in the moisture that turns into thunderclouds and rain in July. It helps knowing this, as well as knowing we only have to endure for a few more weeks. Staying inside and running the a/c also helps. Keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing makes it even easier.

For this particularly hot day, I decided it was time to take advantage of the heat. I also wanted to bake, but without having to use our oven in the middle of the day. Why not use the heat for baking? Thus, car-broiled cookies were born.

 

Four: It’s A Dry Heat

 

Carbroiled Cookies
Step 1) Take your average chocolate chip cookie recipe and spice it up with a rainbow of colors.

 

Carbroiled Cookies
Step 2) Insert cookie dough into pre-heated car.

 

<Carbroiled Cookies
Step 3) Let bake for 3-4 hours.

 

Carbroiled Cookies
Step 4) Remove (with oven mitts!!) and enjoy! Inside. Preferably.
 

Life

Desert Appreciation: Monsoon

I grew up in Florida. I know about thunderstorms. Throughout the summer, we’d get them every day around 3-5pm like clockwork. Small bursts that would congregate and dispense rain like sudden, divine punishment before slipping away to the next block. You could look out one side of the house and see sunlight and blue sky, only to go to another side and find darkness and rain. Larger storms that would stretch into the night, rain drumming louder than a rock concert.

Then there were, of course, the hurricanes. Tropical depressions, tropical storms, cat 1, cat 2, and time-to-evacuate cat 3.

I thought I was ready for monsoon season. Rain? Check. Heavy rain? Check check. Rain so thick you can’t see the hand in front of your face? Checkity check check. Gimme some hail and some close calls with lightning and it’ll feel just like home.

I was ready – for the rain. But not for the desert side of things. The way you could watch a storm approach from miles and miles away. The way clouds bubbled and boiled and burst above the mountains before spilling over in a frightening rage. The way the riverbed, always dry, suddenly filled with churning water, sweeping along anything and everything in its path. The way day turned to night and lightning streaked from one side of the horizon to the other.

And the aftermath. When a Florida storm passes, it leaves little more than wet concrete and steaming asphalt. When a desert storm passes, the world is changed. The oppressive heat is broken, cut down from its dizzying heights to something more livable, breathable. The desert perks up, cacti swelling with the rain and brush bursting with green. The crisp, tangy smells of ozone and creosote permeates everything. Toads quark loudly in the mud, emerging from their months-long hibernation only for the rain.

In Florida, rain is at worst a nuisance, at best a time to set your watch. In the desert, rain is at worst a flash flood that rips down streets and drowns cars, at best – life. The only way this barren, dusty landscape becomes livable.

 

Three: The Majesty of Monsoon

 

Microburst over Oro Valley

 

Afternoon sunshower

 

Rain on glass

 

Gathering storm

 

Monsoon over mountains and hills

 

Monsoon, Part: Approaching from Over the Lake

 

Storm rolling across mountains

 

During the storm

 

Water under Campbell Bridge

 

Water in the Rillito

 

Rainbows after a storm

 

Stormy Sunset

Life

Desert Appreciation: Bats

When we moved to the desert, we picked an apartment on the waterless river within walking distance of a grocery store. It was perfect. We could walk along the river path to the store, cross under a bridge for a busy road, and never having to wait at lights or attempt a game of live-action Frogger.

Because we arrived in summer, the best time to hit up the grocery store was in the evening, when the blisteringly hot sun was finally going down. So it was no surprise that we quickly found out that the bridge was harboring a secret: bats upon bats. We had inadvertently picked a home near the busiest, battiest bridge in all of Tucson.

I love it. The bats are semi-migratory, so there are far fewer in winter than summer, making Watching the Bats Come Out one of the few reasons to venture outside when it’s 110+ degrees. I will remember many a sticky night spent swatting mosquitoes, sweat streaming down my back, leaning over a metal rail, and watching the bats swarm and dart and finally flow free.

 

Two: The Splendor of a Bat Explosion

 

Campbell Bridge Bats

 

DITL May 17th

 

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

An Eruption of Bats

 

A Snake of Bats

Life

Desert Appreciation: Spring Blooms

As we near both the bleakness of summer and our move-outta-town date (oh yeah, did I mention we’re moving to Michigan??), I’m going to do a series of photo posts about the desert, Arizona, and our time here. It has truly been worldview-shifting and an amazing experience that I never could have anticipated. To be honest, when we were making the choice between grad schools way back six years ago, I really wanted to move to Oregon. But I am so, so glad we came here instead.

Let me count the ways.

 

One: The Glory That is a Desert Spring

 

april-25

I grew up in Florida and never really experienced spring. Because it never quite froze during the winter, plants kept their leaves and weren’t rushed to bud and bloom as soon as it warmed up. After all, they had 11 months to do all that.

 

Spring Blooms in the Desert

Then we moved to Seattle and I watched the leaves fluoresce orange, yellow, red, before giving way to cold and dark and brittleness, and then suddenly blossoming again with bright-bright green buds come spring. My favorite part were the daffodils and crocuses that popped out of the snow, brilliant bits of color in an otherwise stark landscape.

 

may-97

But Seattle has nothing on the desert.

For about two months out of the year, the drab brown is awash in yellow and orange and pink and white. Mostly yellow: the palo verdes go to¬†town, blanketing streets and backyards in yellow blossoms and pollen. An allergy-sufferer’s nightmare, true, but worth it.

 

Spring Flowers

The plants don’t have much time to get in as much growing/blossoming as possible before the temp spikes over a hundred and what little moisture we got over the winter is all gone. So they go all out and it’s epic.

 

Spring Flowers

 

Ocotillo Blossom

 

april-6

 

april-2

I’m definitely going to miss this time of ecstatic bloom.

Life

Some Explanations and an Announcement

Where have I been? These past few months have been even quieter than usual around here, and considering how quiet it can get on this blog, that’s near silence. I have a few good reasons – honestly, some very good reasons – but I also have a load of guilt. A writer writes – and, I haven’t been writing.

What happens when a writer doesn’t write? Guilt, yes. A loss of identity, sure. Constantly wondering if you’re ever going to write again. And if you never do, who are you?

But all that existential angst is for another time.

This post is about why I’ve been quiet. I’ve sat on this news for three months now and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been foggy-headed and nauseated and every time I’ve tried to sit down and write, my stories haven’t even been within shouting distance. But now that fog is thinning and I’ve reached a “safe” enough place in this nine-month-long process that I can both share that I’ve been having trouble being a writer and the reason why:

announcement

Yup: after two incredibly long years and countless emotional-rollercoaster months and coming within spitting distance of giving up, I’m pregnant.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my stories are within grabbing distance and I have a new novel about gators and swamps and post-apocalyptic outbreaks to write.

Life

2016 Reading Goals

My main goal for this year is not only to read more, but to read more of the kind of books I enjoy. That is: fun, adventurous fantasy. On top of that, I’d also like to broaden my horizon and read from a diverse array of authors.

To assemble my own list, I rifled through the 2015 year-end best of lists for fantasy and diverse authors, tacked on a few I’d been interested in from earlier years, and came up with the following 21 definitely-gonna-read books (in no particular order):

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (YA)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (YA)
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M Lee
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  • The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Sons of Thesian by ME Vaughan
  • Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer
  • The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (YA)
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyviss (YA – 2016)

My total book goal for the year is 50, so this gives me some wiggle room. I have a tendency to just pick books up randomly and on a whim as I come across them online or in the world. This way, I have the ability to still do that, but also a core reading list that will help me a) stay up to date with recent fantasy, b) diversify my reading, and c) be a ton of fun to read through.

Do you have a reading goal for 2016?