- Did I actually beat both my writing and editing goals for June? Yes I did!
- Well, more or less, anyway. I wrote almost two new scenes for Destinies and Decisions, so that counts towards both writing and editing. I'm quite happy with the scenes, but I think I need to cut down one of them, because Ariana's backstory and me trying to create culture kind of took over everything and it's sort of sidetracking the actual point of the scene, which is that someone is getting poisoned.
- And then I got tired of working on Destinies and Decisions (or possibly just didn't want to face the fact that I need to cut down that scene), so I went back to working on Fight Song and edited about two chapters, took a couple weeks off, and edited another two chapters. So now I have about a month's worth of buffer, which means that I should be able to post chapters regularly all through Camp NaNoWriMo. Which is this month. What even.
- I also started compiling worldbuilding information about my different worlds on my phone so I'm not just storing it all in my head and a notebook that I usually forget to take places with me. At the same time, I'm working out how I can connect my major storyworlds into a multiverse, since I've already established that several different stories have multiple worlds and that'll save me some trouble later on because I won't have to keep inventing new worlds when people worldhop; I just have to decide which existing world best suits my needs (and, if necessary, create a new continent in that world because so far, there's exactly two worlds where I have sort of established that there's multiple continents and exactly zero where I've developed those other continents). But that also gives me the opportunity to do cameos and crossovers if I want, which I think could be super fun. Even without those, it's been pretty cool working out how the different worlds relate to each other in terms of magic levels and when they were created and how much people travel to and from them, plus I realized that one of the worlds that's I've only mentioned and haven't actually visited would logically be either pretty sci-fi or pretty dystopian or both and now I'm super excited to write a story set there, if only I had more time.
- Of course, if I spent a little less time on Pinterest and Candy Crush and a little more time editing and writing and stuff, I probably would be able to get a lot more done. But oh well.
- Huzzah for another good reading month! All but four of those books I read during my hiatus, which isn't surprising; I almost always get a lot of reading done in the mountains. It's a definite highlight of June.
- The other highlight of the month was reading The Masked City and The Burning Page, which, if you missed my post yesterday, are the sequels to The Invisible Library and are every bit as awesome. I seriously cannot rave enough about this series; it's all kinds of fabulous and unlike some of my other favorites, the books are short enough to read in an afternoon. I would say more, but you're going to hear me rave about them a fair bit when I do my Mid-Year Book Roundup, so . . .
- Going back to the start of the hiatus, I intended to go on a Great Dekker Reread. About five years ago, I counted Dekker as one of my favorite authors, mostly because of the Circle and Paradise trilogies. However, I hadn't read his books in a while, so I decided to reread them and see how they held up. Sadly, it wasn't great. I still enjoyed the Circle trilogy the most, but compared to Sanderson and Stengl and Tolkien, his books feel almost shallow, driven too much by emotion and passion to suit me. (Don't get the wrong idea; there's still some excellent stuff in there, including some unique ideas and a fantasy world that's a nice change from the standard medieval Europe setting. They just aren't as great as I used to think they were.) Saint suffered more; it's supposed to be a thriller, but this time around, I didn't get much of a thrill. The best part of the book was honestly the villain, which is something I don't say very often. As for Showdown and Sinner . . . Well, I DNF'ed Showdown after remembering how annoying most of the characters are and how ew-please-no creepy Marsuvees Black is, and once I did that I didn't bother with Sinner.
- All that said, while I don't love Dekker's books as much as I used to, I'm glad I read them when I did. They shaped who I was then, and just as importantly, they shaped my writing and led to some of my favorite stories I've written. Without the Circle trilogy, I would have no Berstru Tales because Rachelle wouldn't exist. Without Saint, well, Between Two Worlds would probably still exist but it wouldn't be the same story it is today. So, yes, I'm not the fan of these that I once was, but I still owe their author a great deal.
- Aside from invisible libraries and not-so-great rereads, the rest of the month's books were good, but not spectacular. As expected, I quite enjoyed Beggar Magic (steampunk! mystery! fun friendships!), The Lord God Made Them All (an excellent end to the series of biographies, particularly since we get to meet Herriot's kids), and Thief of Time (Discworld weirdness, as usual, but there's Susan and there's time-related powers, so that's awesome). More of a surprise were Dragonwatch (which I didn't expect to like as much as I did), Heidel (which is officially my new favorite of the Nine Princesses novellas), and The Creeping Shadow (which definitely redeemed the angst of the previous book). The only new-book disappointment of the month was Coralina, since it's really hard to enjoy a book when you can't root for the heroine through most of it.
- On a final book-related note: I also listened to an audio drama of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was fun. I was already familiar with the story, having listened to a heavily abridged kids' version of it many times when I was younger, which was a good thing because sometimes the voices were rather difficult to keep straight. I enjoyed the story, and I'm quite pleased to have slightly expanded my Shakespeare experience . . . even if some of the lines I remember best are, quite honestly, Helena and Hermia's fabulous insults for each other in one particular scene.
- Has been canceled because I had no time to watch anything in June. I thought about re-watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and found a site where I can watch Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, and Serenity, though. So that's something?
- The month started out with my yearly hiatus/cabin camping trip. As usual, that was a lot of fun. While I love the internet and technology and wouldn't want to live without it, it's nice to take a break now and then and enjoy nature. We did plenty of hiking (though not as much as we have in some previous years) and shooting, I took lots of pictures (which I still need to edit), we roasted marshmallows, all that fun stuff. I think this was actually one of our better trips; the weather was surprisingly nice, which meant we spent much less time walking in mud and debating whether or not to go out and risk the rain and freezing while Daddy set up to take pictures at some scenic overlook, and much more time enjoying ourselves.
- As usual, on our way back from camping, we stopped at my grandpa's house for a couple days to rest and recuperate and do laundry before making the long drive home. While we were there, we drove into Pittsburgh for an afternoon. We didn't do much there, just walked along Mount Washington and rode the incline and, once again, took lots of pictures. Again, I still need to edit them . . . in my defense, I've been busy, plus my mouse broke a few months ago and I was waiting until they went on sale for back-to-school to get a new one.
- And then we got home! Finally! We were all pretty tired, and we knew we'd be traveling again in about a week, so you'd think we just stayed comfortably at home until that next trip. Right?
- Wrong! Because that Tuesday, look where we went . . .
- That's right, Niagara Falls! When I was younger, I really wanted to see Niagara Falls, but we were in Virginia and we never made it up there. But in New York, we're close enough to make a day trip out of it . . . in the sense that we were back home within 24 hours of when we left, anyway, not in the sense that we got back home the same day. We did all the usual things: walked around to the different overlooks, went through the Cave of the Winds (which is not actually a cave but which was cool enough to make up for that disappointment, because you're almost right under the falls in some spots), rode the Maid of the Mist (also very cool, and the falls look waaaay bigger from the bottom), took lots of pictures, all on the American side and all before dinner. Then after dinner . . .
- I went to Canada! Which is mostly just exciting because it was the first time I'd been out of the USA, not because Canada was all that remarkable, at least the bit I saw. It honestly seemed a lot like the USA, just with more French and a different view of the falls. (On that topic: I will admit that Canada has the more scenic view of Niagara Falls, but you can get more exciting pictures on the US side, at least in my opinion.) That said, I'm sure Canada is much more exciting when you're more than a mile from the border. And we did get to see fireworks over the falls while we were there, so that was cool.
- We finally got back at 2:00 the next morning and had a couple days to rest and recuperate before leaving once again, this time for Virginia, on a Top Secret Mission. Actually, it's not especially secret because I think a few of you either know or can guess what we were doing there. But as far as anyone who doesn't know (or is an internet stalker person) is concerned, it was Top Secret. It also lasted just over a week, which was rather longer than we hoped, but that's ok because look what I got:
- If you can't read the titles: that's four Wheel of Time books, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howl's Moving Castle (because my copy was falling apart when I got it and I found a really pretty copy of the same version), The Queen of Attolia, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (all four books! hardcover! in really good condition!). Our trip lasted just long enough that I could go to the big library book sale that happens every July, so I ended up spending ten dollars for nine books (or thirteen, depending how you look at it), and it was marvelous. I almost got Dune as well, but decided to wait until I'd actually read the book to buy it, just in case.
- And then we went back to New York for a week of welcome rest and planning for more trips, because let me tell you, July's going to be plenty busy. Speaking of which . . .
- There will be much travel. I can't say more, but we're going to spend a lot of time packing, which I don't look forward to, and a lot of time in the car, which is actually sort of a good thing, because the other major thing that's happening in July is, of course . . .
- Camp NaNoWriMo! I'm working on a Snow White/Goose Girl retelling for the Five Poisoned Apples contest. I think it's going to have an Asian-inspired setting and feel, so that the whole "black as ebony, white as snow, red as blood" thing makes slightly more sense (because paleness equaling beauty was a legitimate thing in ancient China and Japan, and literally the only other way I can think of to justify it is to make Snow White a vampire and I'm not sure how well that'll fly with this contest). I'm sure I'm not the first person to come up with that idea, but oh well. Hopefully it'll turn out well; right now I'm second guessing basically everything about this potential novella. (Of course, the decision to procrastinate serious planning on it until two days before Camp NaNo started probably didn't help matters . . .)
- Those two things will probably keep me pretty busy, but if I happen to get bored, I still have plenty of summer reading to catch up on, plus some spring reading that I didn't realize was out. And there are several books I want to reread if I have time . . .
- Also, I really want to go blueberry picking, because there's a farm that does that not too far from my house in NY, and the blueberries are so much better than storebought. Plus you can pick blueberries with minimal bending down or accidentally reaching into spiderwebs or anything like that, and you can eat while you pick. And then you have fresh blueberries at home for ages afterwards. What's not to like?
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)