Monthly Report: June and July 2013
Posted by Abhinav Jain
At this point, its becoming more apparent to me that sometimes I just can’t be bothered to blog about certain things, and the last two months have kind of shown that. As did the April/May monthly report. I’ve been struggling to get these out on time for no real reason other than just a general procrastination-related disinterest. Which is bad. Productivity is down and I really need to step things up desperately.
June wasn’t actually that bad but there were far too many things going on in July for me to focus on my writing, especially fictional writing, as I detail below. You can find the April/May Report here.
2013 Writing Challenge
1. Dharmayoddha: Warrior of Faith
I mentioned previously that the novella was complete and that it was time to start looking to see if I could shop it around. Its been some six and a half weeks since I sent it out on submission at the recommendation of an author friend. Haven’t heard a peep from the publisher at all. I’m not sure what to do at this point. If I remember their guidelines correctly, their response time was 4-6 weeks. I’ve checked their website just now and it appears that they’ve increased that time to 12 weeks. So its all in a flux. Since I kind of used an in to get the novella submitted, I’m in a rather awkward position at the point.
Will keep you all updated!
2. Dharmasankat: Crisis of Faith
Some really great feedback has been trickling. I’ve heard from a couple of the authors in the anthology that they enjoyed my story, and a reviewer friend who got an early copy also praised it for its unique flavour. Frankly, this is great news. I have a copy of the book myself, with final edits, but I haven’t read it myself as yet. I’m waiting till next month for that.
Some author friends and other close friends have already expressed a great amount of interest in my story, and I have to say that I’m very humbled by this. I also grin rather stupidly whenever I read about it. Dharmasankat is my first published credit, or will be in about 22 days, and the excitement is getting to me. Good thing yeah?
For those interested, don’t forget that Manifesto: UF comes out next month on September 1st. The purchase links are not ready yet, unfortunately, but rest assured that as soon as those become available, I will be sharing them. In the meantime, do me a small favour and add the book to your Goodreads shelves here in the meantime. Would be much appreciated!
3. Ragnarok Chronicles #1: Cloak of Secrecy
So here’s kind of the thing about this novel. I managed to write a few thousand words of this in June, thanks in great part to all the pre-writing I had done in the two months before, and this was all rather smooth. But, I’m still not comfortable with a lot of what I’m writing and I expect that there is a hefty load of rewriting in my future.
Also, last month I did zero fictional writing of any kind. The first two weeks were completely taken up with my cousin’s wedding, and since Indian weddings are all grand affairs, I was extremely busy throughout those two weeks. I just didn’t have the kind of time needed to sit down for 2-3 hours and hammer out even a thousand words. I barely managed to get any reading or reviewing or blogging done. After those two weeks, things got progressively harder since my mom underwent surgery for breast cancer. So you could say that I just wasn’t in the right headspace for any fictional writing at all. The fallout of the surgery is still being felt since she is now due for her treatments and those start in about 2 weeks, for which we’ll be going back to Delhi and my productivity will most likely take another big dip.
What this means for Cloak of Secrecy, I have no idea. I’ve tried to get some words down but I just can’t find any focus. August was meant to be a mini-NANO month for me. Instead, I haven’t been able to write anything, anything that would at least be the basis for the story going forward. I barely manage two sentences before I end up deleting all of it.
Right now, it is a long-weekend here in Dubai, owing to the Eid celebrations. Yesterday I didn’t get anything done. Today, I might try and push through but I’m distinctly pessimistic on that.
We shall see.
4. The Blog
Both months, things continued apace for “Names: A New Pespective” – I had Elizabeth Bear, Gini Koch, E. J. Swift, Amy McCulloch, Kate Elliott, Bruce Cordell, and, Steve Parker stop by in June. July saw some more great authors stop by – Graham McNeill, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Joe Parrino, Andrez Bergen, Django Wexler, Laura Lam, and, Jay Posey. Looking back, its rather interesting that June was decidedly a women-centric month whereas July was male-centric. Weird how that turned out. I schedule these posts according to when the authors respond to my invitation and the only time I break that sequence is when an author or publicist requests a different date.
As things stand right now, the third edition of NANP is now ever. I put out the final two posts this past week and now I’m going to take a break till sometime in October. I want to focus on something different for a change, such as putting out a few reviews, comics and movies, on the blog and focus on a slightly different kind of audience. More on the success of NANP will come later so keep an eye out for that.
The last two months have also been busy months for editorials, and I put quite a few of them.
The first was Justice League: Strange Union, which was my attempt to hammer out a basic roadmap of movies that I think DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. should put out in the next few years for their own Phase 1 of movies, to take on Marvel’s highly successful cinematic universe. I’ll confess, I was somewhat disappointed by the reaction to it. It just didn’t seem to get all that much traction. With the recent news from San Diego Comic Con that the next two movies from DC/WB are Batman vs Superman in 2014 and Flash in 2015, leading to an actual Justice League of some sorts in 2016, I will be blogging about this soon. Hopefully I can engender a much more spirited discussion this time around!
For my Publishing & Marketing column, I did a double post in June. The first was about the authors I’ve grown up reading and continue to read because I love their work. The second was about the characters I’ve grown up reading and that I continue to read about. I confess, I’m very pleased with all the support that these posts got. It was thrilling to write these posts, taking the multiple nostalgia trips that they necessitated, and I’m glad that I went ahead with them. My goal was to initiate and continue a discussion about women in SFF and I like to think that I definitely did that.
Zachary Jernigan stopped by yet again for a guest post, this time about “Doing Time With The Triptrees“, which was a follow-up post to his previous one where he talked about what’s considered popular and high-profile within the industry is rarely, if ever, to his tastes. Both posts are fantastic and I suggest you read them both. Some excellent thoughts in there.
In July, I posted my first “Best of 2013” list. This was for all the novels and comics I’ve read in January and all through to June, and the same for audio dramas that I listened to in that time period. A followup will be posted at some point in the first week of January next year, unless I manage to complete the list earlier, in which case it will go up on December 31st. Look out for it then!
July also saw me post my first proper movie review on the blog, for Man of Steel, the most recent (and also quite successful) reboot of Superman’s origins and DC/WB’s first step on the path to creating their own distinct unified and cohesive movieverse. I talk about quite a lot of things in there so do give it a read and feel free to respond to any point. Would love to hear more thoughts. I currently have a post on Pacific Rim and The Wolverine in the works and those should both be going up this month. Hopefully.
A few days later there was my post on why I’m not going to watch the Ender’s Game movie, “When Choice Is The Problem: On OSC and Ender’s Game“. I appear to have ruffled a few feathers with that post, as you can no doubt see from the comments. It is the most popular post, whether in terms of comments or people clicking the “like” button, that I’ve put up on this blog to date. From accusations of looking for free hits and causing controversy for the hell of it to people offering some genuine support, the discussion it generated was certainly revealing. The nerd-rage of some people though, my, that was exciting!
A few days ago I began a new series of posts on the blog, wherein I take a look at the covers and synopsis of some upcoming books, books that I’m interested in, and explain why. The first two are already up and you can check out the first one here. And the second one, posted this past week, is here. There’ll be more soon, but not that soon. I’m waiting for publishers to announce more books and put out more covers, so definitely watch this space.
I also posted the first look at the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brahman graphic novel, which is set in India in the 19th century and features an Indian assassin. The artwork looks quite nice and I’m definitely looking forward to the final product.
And finally, there was my rebuttal to a recent review that was put up on Fantasy Faction for author Mark Lawrence’s third and final novel in the Broken Empire series, The Emperor of Thorns. You can read the entire post here. The reason why I put up this kind of a post was because I took issue with the reviewer’s sexist attack on another reviewer and because of how hypocritical his review and later his apology come across as. Every reviewer wants to inform on the good and bad and that was the case here as well, except for the gendered attack on the other reviewer, and the half-assed apology. So… yeah. Let me know what you think.
I’ve been doing a lot these past two months to increase the content on offer on the blog. Hopefully, this experiment is succeeding. If you like all the different directions that I’ve taken the blog to in recent weeks, then let me know in the comments. If you want to see something different, let me know that as well, so I can work something out. I’m always looking for ideas, so don’t hesitate to offer suggestions!
7. The Founding Fields
Wedding preparations and later my mother’s surgery and the resultant fallout from that meant that I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to, with regards to reviewing stuff, but I managed to mostly pull through. Not as much content as previous months, but still, I think that putting out 27 reviews and 6 articles in 2 months is still a good achievement. Bane of Kings, my fellow reviewer at TFF, and I have started a new series on the site, where we review single issues of comics every Friday (just one apiece) and that has helped in allowing me to stay somewhat current with my reviews. My novel reviews are horribly backlogged and I’m still struggling on that front. It also doesn’t look like I’ll be out of that anytime soon, so that’s a bit bothersome.
But still, I’m doing what I can. Putting something out is better than nothing after all.
August was meant to be my mini-NANO month. But that hasn’t happened. I’ll most likely do something on my superhero project and explore another couple of concepts that I’ve been experimenting with in my notes, rather than getting any actual writing done. Planning is often easier than writing. If I can force out a short story or something, I’ll consider that a high achievement!
For both April and March:
- Cloak of Secrecy – 4,671 words
- Dharmayoddha – 0 words
- Dharmasankat - 0 words
- Starfighter/Shadowblade Mash-up – 0 words
- Untitled Fantasy Project - 0 words
- Founding Fields
- Reviews – 39,234 words
- Articles – 7,010 words
- Blog - 28,895 words
- Superhero Project – 1,001 words
Total: ~80,811 words for two months (average: just a little higher than ~40,400 words) which is slightly better than the previous two months. Those big editorials seem to have done the “trick” so to speak. As I keep lamenting, I NEED to do more fictional writing. That is the only department in which my word count is really hurting and it is quite dispiriting that I can’t get those fictional words out. Mom’s upcoming chemotherapy treatment is also a huge factor for why I can’t focus. Like I said, tough to get in the right emotional space.
Yearly total: ~265,392 words, out of a total target of 450,000 words. The spreadsheet says that I’m well on target now, and that I have a really good chance to surpass the 500,000 word mark again. That’d be great!!
2013 Reading Challenge
Some progress on my “mini” reading challenges:
- Top 25 Series I Want To Read In 2013 – 13/25. Rather bad progress on this, having only read Shadows of the Apt #1: Empire In Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Farseer #1: The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I am definitely behind my goal now, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to complete the challenge at this point. Will have to most likely put a few pleasure reads by the wayside and focus on these books in the coming months.
- Most Anticipated Releases of 2013 – 26/50. I read only three books on this list – Egil and Nix #2: A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke, and, Space Marine Battles: The Death of Antagonis by David Annandale - compared to the previous 2-month period, where I read much more, and this is largely due to the fact that I did a reading poll in May for June and because my reading in July was all over the place really. Also, as you might notice, I’ve taken one book off the list, and that’s because I couldn’t finish the previous book in the series and the author’s writing just wasn’t working for me. For this reading challenge as well I need to catch up significantly.
- March Comics Poll – 19/20 (by July 31st). I’m almost done with this challenge. Just got Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night books to read and then a review for that and his Sinestro Corps books with David Gibbons to review. As always feel to check out the reviews of the books on my comics reviews page.
In the final tally for these two months, the meta-challenge counter was 267/350 by midnight July 31st. I read a lot of big fat SFF books in these two months and these set me back a bit so all things considered, I’m not falling too far behind or anything. I’ll definitely have to update the target counter quite soon however, most probably by the end of this month. I’ll bump it up straight to 400, instead of doing it in 50-point installments like I did last year.
As ever, you can follow the progress on my reading for the year here.
And of course, here are my best of the month selections for both June and July.
Top 5 [Comics]: New 52: Justice League #21 by Geoff Johns, Marvel Now: X-Men #2 by Brian Wood, New 52: Batgirl #21 by Gail Simone, Marvel Now: Thor, God of Thunder #9 by Jason Aaron, and, New 52: Batman #21 by Scott Snyder.
Honourable Mention [Comics]: New 52: Earth 2 #13 by James Robinson, Aphrodite IX #1 by Matt Hawkins, New 52: Green Lantern #20 by Geoff Johns, Wolverine v3 Vol.1: The Brotherhood by Greg Rucka, and, New 52: The Movement #2 by Gail Simone.
Honourable Mention: Spiritwalker #3: Cold Steel by Kate Elliott, Egil & Nix #2: A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp, and, Horus Heresy: Promethean Sun by Nick Kyme.
Top 5 [Comics]: New 52: Justice League #22 by Geoff Johns, Red Sonja v2 #1 by Gail Simone, and, Marvel Now: Thor, God of Thunder #10 by Jason Aaron.
Honourable Mention [Comics]: Aphrodite IX #3 by Matt Hawkins, New 52: Earth 2 #14 by James Robinson, and, Polarity #1-2 by Max Bemis.
Not a lot of reviews yet for the comics, largely because I haven’t been able to keep up due to the backlog, something I hope to correct soon!
Some new acquisitions -
- Wonder Woman: Odyssey Volume 2 by J. Michael Straczynski – I read the first volume earlier this year and was quite amazed with it. So getting the second volume was high on my list of books to get. I read it last week and I have to say that it was quite fantastic, better than the first even!
- The Darkness: Rebirth Volume 2 by David Hine – As above, reading the first volume was an amazing experience and I finally was able to buy the second volume on my birthday in June. Haven’t been able to read it yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!
- Flashpoint by Geoff Johns – This is the 5-issue event series that rebooted the DC universe and resulted in New 52. I saw the adapted movie, Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox and I quite liked it so that’s even more an incentive to read this.
- Wolverine v1 Volume 1 by Chris Claremont – This is the 4-issue mini-series that apparently marked Wolverine’s own line of comics and is also the story that the new The Wolverine is adapted from. I liked the movie and when I read this last week, I liked the comic too. Expect a review of both soon!
- The Spirit Eater by Rachel Aaron – This is the third in Rachel’s so far excellent Eli Monpress series, a series that I’ve really enjoyed, so I’m expecting great things from this book as well.
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – This is the first in Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles, a series that is on my 25-in-13 challenge. Have heard some mixed opinions on it of late and I’m keen to read it for myself to see how it holds up.
- Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – Scalzi is a giant of SFF, and not just because he is one of the biggest authors, he is also an outspoken and frank individual who is ready to criticise the industry for all its faults. I’ve been following his blog and social feeds for a while now and I finally caved in a few weeks ago to get the first book in his Old Man’s War space opera series.
- The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts – This is the first in her Alliance of Light and Shadow series. I love the Empire trilogy she co-wrote with Raymond E. Feist for his Midkemian setting, and I’ve been meaning to read more of her individual work for a good while now. Hopefully I can get around to this book soon!
Posted on August 9, 2013, in 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, 24FPS, Book Reviews, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Editorial, Guest Posts, Monthly Reports, Original Work, Review Central, Submissions, The Founding Fields, Writing and tagged 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, 25-in-13, 51-for13, Book Reviews, Comics News, Comics Reviews, Debut Authors Guest Series, Dharmasankat, Dharmayoddha, Editorials, General, Getting Published, Guest Posts, Justice League, Man of Steel, Manifesto UF, Monthly Reports, Movie Reviews, Names A New Perspective, NaNoWriMo, New Acquisitions, Original Work, Publishing & Marketing, Ragnarok: Cloak of Secrecy, Submissions, The Ender's Game, The Founding Fields, Women in SFF. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.