Monday, July 2, 2018

June 2018 Doings! (For Real This Time!)

Allo, all! June's been a super busy month— a lot busier than I expected, honestly. It's a good busy, though, so I can't complain. Busy with what? I'm glad you asked.

Writing!

  • The good news: Dust of Silver is still going fairly well. I've been working on it between other projects and I managed to get several more scenes written. It's going to be much, much longer than the original, though— I'm over halfway through my first notebook and only three days have passed in-story. (Of course, a lot has happened in those three days . . .) Of course, a longer novel isn't a bad thing; it's long because I'm trying to balance all the different character arcs and make sure that all the characters and relationships get the proper amount of development and so forth. But the length is a little discouraging when I look at how much of the plot I've written and how much I still need to write.
  • The better news: as I mentioned earlier this month, edits on Fight Song are complete! Now it's time a break from the adventures of Callie, Jonathan, and company. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to write a sequel to Fight Song; I have a few vague ideas for character team-ups and minor scenes, but nothing solid.
  • The best news: I finished yet another round of edits on Blood in the Snow. This one was based on the comments I got back from my beta readers (first time doing beta readers, by the way! Very exciting!) and mostly involved giving characters and relationships more space to develop on the actual page. Probably the most common comment I got was that Baili wasn't reacting enough to various events, which, to be honest, really isn't surprising. I think I have it fixed now, though, and I've sent the novella on to its next destination. (Some of you already know what that is; for those of you who don't, I'll be making a full post about it later, so stay tuned for that.)
  • For my writing goal of the month, I decided not to aim for 30 minutes a day again. Since I've been pushing myself the last several months and Camp NaNoWriMo is next month, I decided that I should aim for a smaller goal. I was going to do the Go Teen Writers 100-4-100 challenge anyway, so I decided to just use that as my writing goal for the month. (That doesn't mean that I didn't sometimes write for 30 minutes a day, or longer, but I didn't have to.)

Reading!

  • As usual, June was a really good reading month. (The picture doesn't actually cover all of it— there's another book and a short story not included.) Not only did I read quite a lot of books, but most of them were actually really good. I can't cover all of them, but I'll hit some of the highlights:
  • The recommendations-from-Deborah front did especially well in terms of numbers. I reread The Beast of Talesend, then devoured the other two books in the series, plus The Last Days of Lady Cordelia, which is sort of a spinoff, I guess? Anyway. Those were all delightful. Then I read Halayda, which was fun steampunk-and-fae adventure. I will admit that I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I would've liked, but I think that's because I didn't click with the author's style. And I read the first two books in the Bright Empires series, which I also didn't like quite as much as I hoped I would, mostly because all my favorite bits and people are subplots and secondary characters. (Wilhemina is the best, for the record. That girl is goals. Kit, unfortunately, is just kind of boring and spends too much time muddling around.) I like the books enough to finish the series, though. So that's good.
  • I also read Song of Leira and Lightporter, both of which were excellent. I also participated in the blog tours for both books this month, so feel free to scroll back through and check those posts out.
  • I've been meaning to get to the Paper Magician books for a while, and I finally picked the first two of those up this month as well. And I have to say, I really enjoyed them. They do occasionally border on the romantic fluff side, but I'm actually ok with it in this case. The storyline is interesting, the magic system is fabulous, and Ceony is a delightful heroine even if she does get away with quite a lot. Also, I am in love with the covers. That's the kind of subtle style that I struggle with a lot in graphic design. (I'm working on it, but still . . . struggle.)
  • Finally, I have to take a minute to mention The Penderwicks at Last. This is the final book in a series I've basically grown up with. I procrastinated a lot on reading it because, y'know, it's the last book. Once I read it, it's over. Finally I ended up listening to it on audiobook on a weekend trip my family took— I wanted to read the actual book first, but the audiobook hold was going to expire if we waited. And in the end, I'm really satisfied with how the series ended. Was it perfect? No, of course not. Did everything turn out like I expected? Again, no. But I do think that this book does an excellent job of wrapping up the series and bringing it full circle while still letting you know that the adventures and the legacy of the Penderwick sisters will live on.

Watching & Listening

  • Movies worth mentioning this month were both classics. Just last night we watched The Wizard of Oz, which used to be one of my favorite movies but which I hadn't actually watched in years. It definitely is not my favorite movie anymore, but I still enjoyed it, and now I low-key want to reread all the Oz books. (I probably won't, because I most definitely don't have time for that, but you know.)
  • The night before that we watched the musical Singing in the Rain, which I hadn't seen before. For the most part, I liked it. Some things could've been better (I think that the main couple fell in love awfully fast), but the concept was interesting, and the storyline fairly good. And it's a classic, so I'm glad I've seen it once.
  • Other than that, the only thing I've watched all month was a comedy that I'm not going to name here because I'm not really interested in recommending it (but it's also not bad enough that I feel like I need to warn others off it). That said, it did end up being a bit thought-provoking— probably not the thoughts it wanted to provoke, but still.
  • I've noticed, on the rare occasions when I watch comedy, that the violence seems a lot more than in other genres of movie. This is, of course, nonsense, especially when you consider the kinds of movies and shows I do watch. There is, without a shadow of a doubt, more violence in The Lord of the Rings or Avengers or Fairy Tail or even Howl's Moving Castle than in the standard comedy. But the violence in the comedy will bother me five or ten times more than the darkest scenes in any LOTR or Marvel movie. I think it's because the violence in sci-fi and fantasy and superhero movies and shows has a point. Either it's committed by the bad guys to let you know that the stakes are high and Our Heroes will have to struggle to save the day, or it's committed by the heroes in defense of those who can't defend themselves. But in comedies, the violence has no purpose except to humiliate the character in hopes of getting a laugh from the viewers.
  • So, basically, the reason that violence-based comedy falls flat for me is the same reason why embarrassment-based comedy fails. I imagine how the character feels and I cringe and groan and wonder why the character is such an idiot as to get him- or herself into this situation. It's not a good time. And since a lot of comedy movies are based on those two types of humor, well, you understand why I avoid the genre.
  • On a happier note, I've started listening to podcasts. I finished John Green's The Anthropocene Reviewed, up to the present day, and quite enjoyed it. I didn't agree with all his conclusions, but it's very thought-provoking and rather soothing as well. Now I'm working on the Dear Hank and John podcast, which will probably take me a while to get through. I've got time, though.

Life!

  • As usual, we started off the month up in the mountains of Pennsylvania on our yearly cabin-camping trip. Normally, this is when I take a hiatus from the internet because I have no internet access, but this year's trip ended up being significantly less hiatus-y. I still made an effort to spend less time on the internet than usual, but it was nice to not come up and have three million and fifty-nine blog posts to catch up on. And we actually had quite a few good-weather days, even though the forecast called for rain most of the trip, so we were able to do plenty of hiking and such. The one downfall of the trip is that I ended up taking far fewer photos than usual, since I didn't want to carry my camera if I thought rain might start halfway through the hike.
  • By the by, making s'mores with Pop-tarts in place of graham crackers is delicious. Also extremely unhealthy. But delicious!
  • Normally, after our camping trip, we'd come straight back home, but instead we stayed at my grandpa's house a couple extra days and then headed up to Ohio so my sister could do an official college visit at my college. While they were doing that, I spent a pleasant day roving here and there on campus— and by "here and there," I mean that I alternated between the BTS and the library, but you know.
  • We started the trip back the next day, minus my sister, who was staying on campus for a summer dual-enrollment class. For the record: it's mildly weird to be sister-less in the summer, but not as much as I expected. Mostly I've been too busy with work and writing to think about it much.
  • The rest of the month, of course, has mostly been taken up by my internship. I'm still enjoying it; the assignments are sometimes challenging (or sometimes I make them more challenging than they otherwise would be by overestimating my ability to art), but it's not boring. Also, as I think I mentioned before, I got to research brand archetypes— basically an application of narrative and psychological archetypes to branding— and that was pretty interesting. I have had to increase the amount of time I spend working, though, which isn't a bad thing but does mean that I'm a lot busier than I was before.

July Plans!

  • Work. I still need a lot of hours in my internship. Way more than I wanted to need at this point. (Unfortunately, when I originally calculated how many hours I needed per day, I used the wrong variables and I'm paying for it now.) I'm probably going to end up working on quite a few Saturdays and weekends, as long as I can find things to do.
  • I am also doing Camp NaNoWriMo, because apparently I'm just flat-out crazy. My plan is to edit Mechanical Heart, the dark steampunk Rapunzel retelling I wrote two Aprils ago. For a while, I was thinking of writing something completely new (evil!Rapunzel? Lighthouse Rapunzel crossed with the Little Mermaid?), but I decided to stick with Mechanical Heart. If all goes well, it'll fit in well with long-term plans. If all doesn't go well, I'll stress for a couple hours (or a couple days) and then figure out a new plan. And, on the upside, it's shorter than most of my other projects that need edited, so I might actually be able to get the whole thing done in relatively short order.
  • Due to the above two things, I may end up going on semi-hiatus from the blog next month. I'll try to post when I can, and I'll definitely keep putting up Fight Song, but it's not my top priority. Most of my time will be taken up with my internship and my editing, and when I do have free time, I want to be able to spend it on things that refill my creative well instead of draining it more.
  • On that note, I really do hope to clear off my shelf full of library books next month. And I need to reorganize all my shelves, though that may have to wait until August. Who knows?
How was your June? Are you super busy? Or super chill? Any fun plans for July? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

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