Thursday, May 30, 2019

May 2019 Doings!

Ahhhh. Finally a quiet month. It's so nice to be back home, away from classes and constant stress — even if I do miss my friends. That said, a quiet month doesn't mean there are no Doings at all, so let's get started!


  • The last major round of edits on Mechanical Heart is done! Finally!
  • Ok, technically, I haven't been working on it that long; only since February. But the fact that I've been working on only Mechanical Heart edits, and the fact that I didn't have much of a break between the different rounds of edits, makes it feel like much longer. Also, I've literally doubled the length of the story every time I edit it. I'm pretty sure this is the opposite of what most people do. Oh well.
  • I still have another round or two of mid-level to minor adjustments to get through (the exact level depends on what Kendra has to say about it in her critique). But those won't be nearly as bad, and with luck, they won't take me more than a week or two.
  • (Hopefully, those won't be famous last words . . .)


  • So, here's what happened: I got home from college. I went to the library. And then I devoured all the books because that's what happens when I have plenty of time and limited energy (which, naturally, I decrease further by staying up late to read . . . ).
  • Most of these were new-to-me reads, but some were rereads. I revisited Illusionarium around the middle of the month because I was losing motivation for Mechanical Heart and hoped that reading some good steampunk would help. (It did, thankfully.) I'm also rereading the Auralia's Colors series because a friend mentioned them and I wanted to see if they were as good as I remembered. I think the first book suffers on the reread; the author leaves too much fuzziness in an effort to create the magic the book requires. The rest of the series, however, improves, especially Cyndere's Midnight. My appreciation for Jordam has significantly increased, a fact I attribute in no small part to The Wingfeather Saga and the Tales of Goldstone Wood.
  • Moving on to the really good new books: the Strange the Dreamer duology was pretty amazing. I wasn't sure about it at the start, but once we moved on from Lazlo's horrible childhood and introduced Sairi and her family . . . yes. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone just because it is rather dark at times and involves some adult topics, but overall, I can see why people like these so much. Tess of the Road was another one covering difficult or mature topics, and I quite enjoyed it as well, even though I'd heard bad reviews from a lot of people. (My take: just go in expecting a slow plot, no dragons, and lots of emphasis on internal conflict and you'll be fine.) And, of course, the one Discworld book that I read, The Last Hero, was pretty fun. It wasn't my favorite in the series, but it's the best of the Rincewind books.
  • I also read a few anthologies! One, To Hold the Bridge, is by Garth Nix; I mostly read it because it had an Abhorsen short story in it. That short story was decent; the rest was highly meh. A Blink of the Screen, an anthology of Terry Pratchett's short fiction, was better — though, oddly, I enjoyed a lot of the non-Discworld stories better than the Discworld ones. And Neil Gaiman's M is for Magic was the best of the three; his short fiction reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones's in a lot of ways.
  • Most of the other books that I haven't mentioned yet were good, but not amazing, but I will mention the two really disappointing ones. Etiquette and Espionage was, like Illusionarium, supposed to motivate me to keep working on Mechanical Heart. Unfortunately, the trope it's founded on (the magical boarding school) is hit or miss for me, and this one missed more than it hit. I definitely will not be continuing the series. And I picked up An Abundance of Katherines because I liked Turtles All the Way Down and thought that I ought to read more than one John Green book in my lifetime . . . and then I put the book down again after the third chapter. Sorry, John Green, but Colin is a whiney child, and like the Katherines who dumped him, I have better things to do with my life than wait around for him to get a grip on his.


  • So, yes. I saw Avengers: Endgame, and it did not kill me and I was very impressed with it. Go read my post on the topic if you want to know more about how I feel. I don't feel like recapping everything I already said more than I just did. Also, if you've watched Endgame since I wrote that post, go comment on my spoiler post and let me know what you thought! (Or just tell me in the comments of this post, if you put a spoiler warning on there.)
  • Also, going to movie theaters by yourself is highly underrated. I wish I'd realized this sooner; if I had, I would've been caught up on the MCU much faster, and I might've seen other recent movies as well. The only downside is that you don't have someone to talk to in-person right after you leave the movie . . . but I'd rather wait to discuss it until I've thought over my impressions more anyway.
  • In addition to seeing Endgame, I watched Mary Poppins Returns with my family and very much enjoyed it. Is it the same as the original? Not at all. It's a different, slightly darker story in a different, slightly darker era. Is it better than the original? Probably not. But is it worse? I don't think so. Honestly, I like the one just as much as the other. And while I will acknowledge that some of Emily Blunt's mannerisms and phrases seemed just the slightest touch off or forced, she stayed true to Mary's overall personality, and I appreciate that.
  • Other than that, I've mostly been watching a lot of Hogan's Heroes with my family, which I'm thoroughly enjoying. I really like that show, ok? I know it's not perfect, but it's fun, and I love a good guile hero — of which Hogan definitely is one. And it's one of the fairly rare humorous shows that produces next to no secondhand embarrassment, so that's a relief.


  • Honestly, there's not a lot to record in this section that I haven't written about already. I'm getting back into the routine of work, writing, and reading. I've been able to do some design stuff, both for professional and personal reasons, and that's been pretty fun. I'm trying to figure out how to get myself to draw more. (Also, I bought watercolor pencils because they were on clearance for really cheap, but I then realized that you need watercolor paper in order to use watercolor pencils, so now I have to buy that . . . gah.)
  • Oh! We went to the Memorial Day concert and fireworks at Wolftrap, which is a National Park/performing arts center about half an hour from my house. The concert was excellent, and I may look up a few of the pieces to see if there are good versions available online. And the fireworks were fabulous, even though our seat was partially under a tree that seemed like it might block our view. On that topic, fireworks are amazing and I forgot how gorgeous they could be, especially when they're arranged with music.
  • Um . . . I made food! That's something! One dish was just pasta and sausage in the skillet, which turned out well. The other was enchiladas, which also turned out well, but I had to make enchilada sauce, which almost burned and smelled terrible, but it's fine. It tasted good in the end. I did intend to cook more than I have, but there's still quite a bit of summer left.

June Plans!

  • I'm hoping that June will be more of the same as May: quiet and mostly occupied with writing, work, and reading. It may not be exciting, but it's pleasant.
  • Obviously, I'll be working on the next few rounds of Mechanical Heart edits just as soon as I get the final critique back from Kendra and have time to think through them. I'll also start working on the interior design and formatting for the Kindle and paperback versions . . . yay. I should probably try to work out how to do the paperback formatting in InDesign; maybe that'll be less aggravating than Word.
  • Also, there will be a cover reveal soon! Keep your eyes open for news about that.
  • Before I go back to work on Mechanical Heart (and possibly in the midst of that), I'm going to work on the D&D campaign I hope to run next semester. I'm hoping to have enough weekly adventures planned to carry me through the first month or two at least, if not more. I do have several of those adventures semi-prepared already, but I need to solidify worldbuilding stuff and figure out how those episodes might fit into the larger plot. (And, yeah, I'm doing this a bit out of order, but it'll work.)
  • And, of course, I need to start figuring out stuff in earnest for Camp NaNoWriMo in July . . . but that'll be more towards the end of the month. (Fingers crossed that I'll have all my Mechanical Heart edits done by then, 'cause that would be amazing.)
  • Outside of writing, it'll mostly be business as usual: work, reading, and so on. I'm knitting a cloak, so that's fun, and I have one or two other craft projects I'd like to work on if I have time. (Fun fact: you can 3D print a sword. And one of my local libraries has a 3D printer that patrons can use. Do you see where I'm going with this?) I may see a movie or two, which is a little out of the ordinary, but hopefully won't be much longer.
  • There's also a pretty good chance that my family will be going to at least one amusement park, so WHOO! Now that I know I actually like wooden roller coasters, I'm super excited. (We were supposed to go to Hershey Park yesterday, actually, but we got rained out. Here's hoping that doesn't happen again.)
How was your May? What are your plans for June? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

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