Updates and Apologies

Mark here. I’ve been really absent lately, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve got my excuse, but… It’s an excuse.

I’d say it’s a pretty good one, too, though.

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You see, I was beta reading Oathbringer. According to this post, it is currently ~514,000 words long. For some perspective, the entire Lord of the Rings (The trilogy, not just one of the books.) is only 473,000 words long. So the beta reading process took about 2.5 months. I might talk about it somewhere later, but for now, all I’ll say is it was intense, exhausting, rewarding, and it’s over. Also, Oathbringer is a freaking amazing book and you want to preorder it now. November 14th is the release date, and you will want to read this as soon as you can. Trust me.

Oathbringer is the only book I’ve finished reading this year. It’s the middle of March. I tend to average about 50 books per year, give or take, so that’s a ridiculously slow rate for me. The problem was, every time we had a break between parts of the book that we were reading, it was only for a few days, and I didn’t have time to get through anything else. Limbo isn’t fun…

But that is done now, and I’m back. I’ve got a (movie) review ready for later this week, and I’m starting several other books very soon, in hopes of getting back on track with the blog.

I’d like to finish with a huge thanks to my coblogger Shannon for keeping things running while I was busy on Roshar!

The Posting Schedule

Hey all! Mark and Shannon here. We’re going to talk a little bit about what’ll be happening with the blog this coming year, including our goals and we want to give you some idea of what we’ll be posting when.

We’re planning to kick it into gear this year with a minimum of three posts, two of which will be reviews, every week! It should be fun. It’s a lot more than either of us have done for a sustained amount of time before, so yes, we’re a little bit nervous about things. Yes, we know the plan is a bit ambitious. But we think we can stick to it, and we’re happy that you’re along for the ride.

Our weekly schedule will hopefully look something like this: One review on Tuesday, one “other” post on Thursday, and another review on Saturday. At least one of the reviews each week will be a book review, but we can’t promise that they both will be. As you may have already noticed, I (Shannon) have been reviewing some comic books, and I’m hoping to branch into visual novels as well.

We may also start doing movie reviews, as I (Mark) don’t know if I’ll be able to read a new book every week this year, and have definitely been watching a lot more movies lately than I used to. (I saw Rogue One, Rogue One, Snowden, Collateral Beauty, Dr. Strange, Arrival, Fantastic Beasts, The Secret Life of Pets, Moana, and Independence Day all in the last two months or so.)

We’re not currently receiving any review copies other than ones we happen to get by luck, but we’re hoping to change that eventually, once we have this whole schedule thing down a little bit more. We’ve signed up for a Netgalley account, which I (Shannon) will likely be making the most use of. I (Mark) am not much of an e-book person, so I’m hoping I can pursue physical review copies a bit more.

The “other” posts will be in a wide variety of areas, though we’ll try to keep most of them related to the blog, reading/reviewing, and us. We have a lot of convention reports coming up, including Mark’s report from WorldCon last year, Shannon (and possibly Mark)’s report on ICFA this year, Mark’s JordanCon report, and perhaps we will throw in a report or two on any signings that we go to that end up being particularly fun. I (Mark) reserve the right to write random Sanderson posts when I want to, too.

We look forward to seeing everyone in the comments section in the new year!

2017 Resolutions

1. Write and Submit.

What I want: I want to be a writer. I don’t need to make a living out of it—and I’m honestly not sure I could handle the stress (and lack of rigid schedule) that would come with doing so. But I still want to write stories, get better at it, and have a few of them published, if possible. I have a few short stories that really need to be submitted to places, and a few more that just need a revision or two before they’re ready to submit.

What I’m doing: My goal is to write 250 words/day. No increases in requirements after a month or anything, just write and be steady. Every day. I’m joining a new writing group at the beginning of the year, and I’m hoping that all of us can motivate each other to write, read, critique, and submit more, and stay on track with it.

2. Blog regularly.

What I want: A minimum of three posts per week, some ARC/release day reviews. Basically, I just want consistency. Also, this will force me to write more, and stay in the writing mood.

What I’m doing: As you’ve hopefully noticed, I’m now co-blogging with @conflictedesire, and this adds a lot of accountability. It also means that, most weeks, I don’t have to do all three posts myself. We’re aiming to split the reviews at one each, and have on of us do another “other” post on whatever seems relevant. This week, it’s this post.

3. Budget efficiently.

What I want: A regular budget that lets me know how much I can spend on things like keeping the URL for this blog (no longer at .wordpress.com), keep adding to my book collection, and have enough cards to enjoy playing Magic. I also plan to attend another few conventions in the coming year, and I’m hoping I can start saving money for the future…

What I’m doing: For starters, I’m working a full time job now. I’ve got a list of my expenses each month, and once I have a few other things settled, I’ll try to have set limits on what I spend on my hobbies each month. I’m kind of looking forward to handling all my finances, though it’s also quite terrifying.

4. Work on personal projects.

What I want: One or two personal programming projects that I keep working on and attempt to make something out of.

What I’m doing: I know what projects I want to do, and I have people to keep me accountable while working on them. One of them is a joint project with one of my best friends, and she’s going to make me stick to it. Another is more personal, but I’m excited about it, and hopefully I can use that to keep me going. We’ll see.

5. Travel a bit.

What I want: I really enjoyed going to WorldCon these past 2 years (I’ll hopefully have a 2016 WorldCon retrospective post up soon), and I’m hoping to branch out into some other cons this coming year, as well as attend another few events.

What I’m doing: I’m signed up for ICFA and JordanCon in March and April, respectively, with airfare and hotels booked. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people at each of these conventions, and seeing some that I’ve met in the past. There’s also the release of Sanderson’s next Stormlight book sometime near the end of the year that I’m planning to take some time off to work at, which should get me out of the house in those later months (I’m not planning on doing WorldCon because it’s a bit too far away this coming year.). Fingers crossed that all of those work out for me.

6. Work out.

What I want: To be fit.

What I’m doing: My office has a gym in the basement, and I’ve filled out the paperwork to be able to use it. I sporadically started using the gym at my university last fall, and I hope that, now that school is over and things are hopefully more predictable/stable, I can be regular about going to the gym and working out.

7. Read regularly.

What I want: To read a lot more. 2016 was probably the worst reading year I’ve had since I learned how to read, and that’s really sad. I did do a significant amount of beta and gamma reading during the year, as well as preparatory rereads of other works so that I knew the continuity, and I didn’t really count these into my books read. They felt more like work, even though they’re books from authors whose work I absolutely LOVE, but I’m hoping to do more pleasure reading and get some new books read this next year. I also want to reduce my TBR.

What I’m doing: I have the blog to keep up with—a review every week—and that alone is some good motivation. In addition, i’m budgeting time every day to read, and hoping that, again, with a more regular work schedule, I can stick to this. I don’t want to set any hard and fast goals for the year, as I’m notoriously bad about tracking some of this stuff, but to do a review each week, I’ll say 52 books seems reasonable. I’m trying not to buy any new books unless A) I’m planning to read them immediately and B) I’ve “earned” them by net reduction of my TBR stack.

So there you have it. Those are my big goals for the year… I’ve not been the most successful about sticking to all of my goals in the past, so we’ll have to see how it goes this year. I’m optimistic, but not overly so. I hope.

The Shiny New Coblogger

Hey there guys!  I’m Shannon, and it’s really nice to meet you all.  I warn you now, I’m a little more peppy and bubbly than Mark, so bear with me!

To give some background information, I’m a college graduate and a good friend of Mark.  We’ve known each other in person for about a year and both share an interest in all things Sanderson, though I am not as caught up as I would like to be…

I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy fan, in all media and forms.  I have a budding interest in horror, and I read both YA and adult fiction.  I’ve presented in the past for the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts and have been accepted for my second year!

Other than books, I love Japanese role-playing games, J-Rock and visual kei, ball-jointed dolls, stuffed animals, and cats.  I also love comic books as well, specifically from Image.

To that effect, my reviews will not be entirely based around novels.  I may do short story roundups, talk about visual novels, and comics as well.  Everything will be spoken about from primarily a literary basis though, so no worries.  I just like to change things up to incorporate the full extent of my hobbies and interests in my posts.

On twitter, you guys can find me at @conflictedesire.  I haven’t been posting as regularly lately, but I intend to fix that~

I’ll leave you guys with a picture of my cat, and hope that you will accept me. ❤

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2015 Resolutions

Read 52 reviewable books.

I’ve set this goal on Goodreads, and I intend to stick to it. I only read 40-ish books last year, and I’d really like to improve upon that. In addition, this would give me a book to review every week for my blog, which brings me to my next resolution.

Have 2+ weekly posts on this blog, at least 1 of which is a review.

I really want to be more active here, and I enjoy writing posts, as well as reading on others’ blogs. I don’t have any kind of readership/views goal for myself. I’m just trusting that if I do what I enjoy, and write frequent (but still good) posts, good things will follow. I’m not engaging in any particular memes, so you should expect my non-review posts to be a bit random at times.

Walk 10k+ steps per day.

This isn’t a blogging related goal. It’s much more health oriented. I’m not what I would consider obese or anything, but I’m also not in great shape. I’m also a computer science major in college, which means I spend unhealthy amounts of time in front of a computer, staring at the screen and typing. Walking isn’t strenuous exercise, but 10k steps will usually get me up and out for at least an hour. My new phone measures how many steps I take, which may have been a large part of why I decided to do this.

Write every day.

Last year, I resolved to try to get a short story published. I failed at that, and I’m not setting that as my goal again this year. Instead, I want to get back on the track of writing every day. I fell off of this train during the fall semester last year, thanks to some ridiculously hard classes. This semester, I have what I think will be a much lighter load, and so I’m looking forward to being able to take the time to blog more in addition to increasing my reading, as well as getting back into the (creative fiction) writing groove.

Attend Sasquan, this year’s WorldCon.

I’ve never actually been to a sci-fi/fantasy convention, and everyone keeps going to these things and having so much fun. I’ve already paid my registration, and I’m super excited. I already know a handful of authors and others who are going, and I’m really, really excited to meet them in person, as well as make new friends, attend a bunch of cool panels, and BE AT THE HUGO CEREMONY. The actual Hugo awards. I voted for the first time last year, and that was an amazing experience. Being able to actually attend the awards will be so much more awesome. Also, Brandon Sanderson is going to be there… I need to write a post about my Brandon Sanderson problem soon.

Keep my book-buying budget low.

Other than a handful of books I want to buy, I’m really trying to cut down on this this year. I’ll still go for special things, like Sanderson collectors copies when I can find them, but I really want to save my money for the WorldCon trip and not buy more books that I may not get around to reading for the next 10+ years. I’m not terrible worried about the size of my TBR (other than wanting to get another bookcase), but I think spending much money on books that are going to be that far out is just the other side of ridiculous. I’ll be buying/bringing plenty of copies to WorldCon, though, and I’ve already bought my 30-40 books for the year. I also want to start exploring another method for obtaining books, which brings me to my last resolution.

Request at least 1 ARC.

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. As I get more in to the blogging world, hopefully maintaining my reviewing and posting pace, and maybe even getting a few people to read the blog, I want to start requesting ARCs to review. So far, I’ve only been getting ARCs that I win in contests—and I’ve gotten quite good at winning them. But this still gives a random selection, often giving me later books in a series I haven’t read, and it also doesn’t come with any review requirements. Though I’m trying to treat my ARCs as review books from here on out, I would really like to request (and obtain) at least 1 ARC. I have a book in mind, too, and if that goes well I’ll try for a few more.

Well, I said last resolution. There’s 1 more, which I think everyone should have:

Have a great year!