Tuesday, December 29, 2020

December 2020 Doings!

Hello, everyone! Yeah, this Doings post is not coming to you on the usual day. But since this is such a posting-heavy week (with Doings!, my 2020 reading wrap-up, 2021 goals, and hopefully a short story for New Year's Eve), I decided to mess with the schedule a bit. So, yes. This will likely be the first of many posts this week. Enjoy?


  • No, the Midnight Show sequel is not done. Yes, it is behind schedule. I continue to blame research. Also, y'know, Christmas prep.
  • On the upside, I've written some every day this month, so I feel good about that. And I think we're close to being finished; nearly all the pieces are in place for the mystery to be solved and the conflicts resolved. I'd feel better if I'd written more every day and if a few more pieces were in place, but I will take the victories I can and try again next month for the losses.
  • I also didn't work at all on my D&D campaigns, but we're still working through the current module, and I expect to be in this module for another couple of weeks, so we should be ok.
  • I'm finishing out the month with 17956 words (plus probably another couple thousand over the next few days) written in December and 53698 total on The Midnight Show sequel. Some of those words will be cut in edits, but this book will definitely be longer than its predecessor.


  • This month's reading was about 50% Christmas stuff, which is more Christmas reading than I've done in quite a while. I started off with Hogfather, which I liked better on the reread — It helped that I'd been seeing posts about the story a lot on the socials, so I was pretty hyped. I followed it up with some short stories: The Sixth Christmas, which was an interesting take on a Christmas Carol/Wonderful Life-type situation, and the Christmas in Talesend anthology, which is always fun. And we finished up on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with The Enchanted Sonata, which was also absolutely delightful on the reread.
  • Outside of Christmas reads, I finished the published Magus of the Library books with volume 3, which was about as good as the first two. And I read some short stories: an anthology by Patricia C. Wrede, the highlight of which was an Enchanted Forest Chronicles short story about an enchanted frying pan, and H.L. Burke's "Spider Spell", which was fun but did not make me more favorably inclined towards spiders as a whole.
  • I also read Allie Brosh's recently-published second book, Solutions and Other Problems. It wasn't bad, but I didn't love it. I was glad I'd read it once, but I don't think I'll reread it.
  • The non-Christmas highlight of the month was rereading Little Women, which honestly gets better every time I read it. It truly is an excellent book, and it was nice to revisit all my favorite parts and all the bits I'd forgotten.
  • And I'm finishing out the month with 10 Blind Dates, which is not my usual genre (it's contemporary YA romance, of all things), but it was recommended to me by a friend and I'm actually enjoying it more than I would expect. It has a lot of emphasis on family relationships as well as romance, which is nice.


  • Obviously, we watched a lot of Christmas movies this month. Some of them were the usuals (Rudolph, Little Drummer Boy, White Christmas, Peanuts, etc.) Others were new to me; we watched Shop Around the Corner and The Bishop's Wife the week before Christmas. Both were . . . I wouldn't choose to watch them again, but I wouldn't refuse if other people wanted to watch them unless I had a compelling something else that I needed to do. (I do want to watch You've Got Mail now, though, since people have told me that it changes most of the reasons I wasn't excited about Shop Around the Corner.)
  • We also watched the 2019 version of Little Women, and I was actually impressed. They did better with peoples' character arcs than I feared, and while I have mixed feelings about how they handled the back-and-forth between different parts of the timeline, I think the movie was well-done overall. (I also feel like this movie clarified a lot for me why so many people disliked a particular part of The Penderwicks At Last that I was genuinely happy about. So there's that.)
  • Also, Overly Sarcastic Productions posted the next part of Journey to the West, and therefore I am IMMENSELY happy. It was a very fun episode, and my desire to read the actual book has been renewed. (Tragically, no libraries near me have the better English translations. I might suggest the libraries acquire them, though . . .)
  • And, of course, I'm still working my way through Critical Role. I'm halfway through Episode 42, and the Avantika arc is still not my favorite, but it's getting better! And I think I only have about eight episodes left before we get to the arc I'm really excited about, which is the trip to Xhorhas.


  • Most of the month, of course, was occupied by Christmas stuff: making and acquiring gifts, sending Christmas cards, baking cookies, and so forth. I am very happy with this year's Christmas baking. I made molasses cookies and gingersnaps (because we were running out of molasses cookies), both of which I've made previously. I did about 60% of making cut-out cinnamon sugar cookies — my mom and I mixed the dough up in a joint effort, and I did the cutting and baking. And, arguably the one I'm most excited about, I made mint chocolate chessboard cookies, which are a variation on cut-and-bake sugar cookies, but with strips of chocolate and mint dough formed into a checkerboard pattern. They turned out very well, and I hope to make the Neapolitan variation sometime in the future.
  • In addition to the writing and the Christmas prep, I spent a lot of the month working on the second half of the freelance design project I was working on last month. This month was less of a learning curve, but it still took a lot more out of me than I'd hoped. On the upside, I'm almost done, and what's left should be less frustrating. Hopefully, anyway.
  • On a happier note, I did have a second interview with one of the places I applied for back in November, and it went very, very well. And the interview led to a very exciting phone call about a week before Christmas . . . but more on that in the next section.
  • And now, back to Christmas! Christmas Eve was . . . not really what I was hoping for? We ended up with the noon Christmas Eve service, which I wasn't super happy about (the service was very nice; it just made for an extraordinarily awkward flow for the day), and we didn't do as much driving around and looking for lights as we normally would because it was raining. (And there weren't as many lights on for the same reason.) But it was ok.
  • Christmas Day was very nice, though. We ended up having ham instead of the lasagna we originally planned, and that was very tasty. My family seemed to like the gifts I got them, which I'm glad of. (One highlight: I got my sister her first set of D&D dice!) I also got some very nice gifts, including some expansion sets for Sentinels of the Multiverse (I now have all my favorite heroes, villains, and environments, along with some new environments I'm super excited to try), the most recent Invisible Library book and Randall Munroe's What If?, and two new tumblers to replace the one that has a bunch of cracks in the outer wall from when it got knocked onto the ground in a parking lot back in September. (They change color in response to temperature! I am more excited about this than I have any right to be! Also, they're a little larger than my old one but not so much that they don't fit in cupholders.)
  • After Christmas, we took a short trip up to visit my grandpa, since we haven't seen him in quite a while. So that was very nice.
  • And throughout the month, my sister and I had several opportunities to play Sentinels of the Multiverse with our roommates over Zoom. It works surprisingly well — it's better when all parties have both the villain and the environment we're using, but we can manage even when only one person has the deck. About half the games we played were against a surprisingly deadly combination: Omnitron (think: murderbot with control of a robotics factory) in the Ruins of Atlantis (exactly what it sounds like). Omintron is a Level 1 villain, so he's usually not hard to beat, but somehow this villain/environment grouping killed very capable hero teams three times (three!) before we finally managed to beat it.

 January Plans

  • So, the most exciting thing that's happening this coming month: barring calamity, I am officially starting a new full-time job in the first couple weeks of January! I'll be doing print and web design work for a church about thirty minutes from where I live. I'm looking forward to it, though I'm also a bit nervous (more about changes in general than about anything specific). I think it'll be a good place to start out with professional work: it seems like it'll be less stressful than some other places I applied to, and the people I'll be working with most seem very nice.
  • That means I'll have to work out how to balance writing with full-time work and not ignoring my family, as I fully intend to finish the TMS sequel in January so I can send it to Kendra in February. I will have a four-day workweek instead of a five-day one, so that'll help. But it'll still be a challenge.
  • I'll also be finishing up the freelance project in the beginning of the month, but, again, I should be just about done with it. Fingers crossed that I'm not wrong . . .
  • And in whatever time I have left over, I have a lot of reading to do so I can get in Return of the Thief and Rhymth of War before I have to return them to the library. Because let me tell you, I'm super tired of trying to dodge spoilers, especially since people are starting to leak stuff about RoW. Queen's Thief fans seem pretty good about tagging spoilers even months after the release. Not so much Cosmere people.

How was your December? Any exciting plans for January? Are you as behind on your TBR as I am? What were the highlights of your Christmas season?  Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 18, 2020

Winter 2020-2021 Reads


Hey'a, everyone! It's time for another season of new reads! I'll confess, after the last few seasons of a lot of highly-anticipated (and sometimes long-awaited) reads, this winter's lineup almost feels a little unexciting. That said, even if I'm not over-the-top excited about any of what's coming, there's still a good bit to look forward to. (Plus, I'm still catching up from this time last year, so . . . maybe it's ok if we have a quieter season, yeah?)

Winter 2020-2021 Reads

1. A Day of Darkness by Suzannah Rowntree (December 3). This is the third book in a series, and I haven't read any of it yet technically, but I'm told these are essentially standalones. Also, I want to read the whole series as soon as I get a pause point between library books and long-anticipated new releases — it's time-traveling historical fantasy set largely in the era of the Crusades, and if that doesn't sound awesome, I don't know what does. (Also: it might partially fulfill my long-standing wish for portal-type fantasy in which the protagonist goes to a more advanced era or culture than they came from? Which would be awesome.)

2. Blind Date with a Supervillain by H.L. Burke (December 18). I do not love the cover on this. I'm saying that right now. The "Blind Date" font bothers me enough that I almost didn't include this on the list. But it's superhero slice-of-life, and I've been saying that I want that for years, so in the end, I can't not include it. This is a spinoff from Burke's Superhero Rehabilitation Project (another series I really want to read as soon as I clear a bit more of my more urgent backlist), though it can be read and enjoyed on its own, and it sounds pretty fun (if more rom-com-y than I normally go for).

3. Lore by Alexandra Bracken (January 5). Another book I debated about including (not because of the cover, 'cause this one is pretty gorgeous), but it's urban fantasy and Greek myth, and I'm almost always down for more of both of those. And I'm very curious what the significance of a Medusa figure on the cover might be — are we getting another sympathetic Medusa story? (I say "another"; there really aren't many, if any, in published fiction. Just in short webcomics and stuff.) Also, it's confirmed to be a standalone, so thank goodness.

4. Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer (January 12). Magical, mysterious, deadly forests have been a thing in fantasy forever, but only because they have so much potential. And while forbidden love stories can sometimes get on my nerves, maybe this one will be different? If nothing else, "Monster seeks to become human" stories have just as much potential as magical woods, and I'm interested to see how this one turns out.

5. Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift (January 19). I keep going back and forth on how excited or not excited I am for this one. On one hand, I really like the idea of characters in an arranged marriage saying "Heck no!" and running off to find someone else, only to end up falling in love with the person they were supposed to marry. On the other hand, there is so much potential for this story to go wrong in the ways that frustrate me most. So . . . yeah.

6. The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick (January 21). It's not exactly a magical heist novel, but it's a magical long-con novel, which is in many respects the next best thing. Also, "a con artist, a vigilante, and a crime lord must unite to save their city"? Sign me up. Just . . . please, let this not be another "The Last Magician" situation, where the novel has so much potential and then is utterly ruined by a lack of any kind of inter-character relationship worth getting invested in.

7. Magus of the Library volume 4 by Mitsu Izumi (January 26). I discovered this manga series earlier this year on the recommendation of a friend. I zipped through the first three books, which were all delightful — low-stakes, character-focused fantasy featuring a Middle East-inspired world, magical librarians, and an equally magical library. I was super disappointed when the third book ended, so I'm looking forward to this releasing.

8. Muse by Brittany Cavallero (February 7). Alternate America-type historical fantasy seems to be growing in popularity of late, and I am 100% here for it. Some people are also saying this is steampunk? Which, if it is, is doubly awesome; I haven't read any good new steampunk in quite a while.

What book releases are you excited for this winter? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 4, 2020

November 2020 Doings!

 Hey'a, everyone! We are officially into the holiday season and the final month of 2020. Thank goodness. I'm not going to pretend that all our troubles will end with the dawn of a new year, but I am glad that at least we're in a season that feels a little more hopeful.

(I would also like to say that this is the first time in at least two years that I've actually done a November Doings! post instead of merging it in with December's Doings! So in that respect, I am doing great.)


  • November is, of course, National Novel Writing Month, so every minute of writing time I had was dedicated to working on my NaNo novel, the sequel to The Midnight Show. Given that, you would think the first draft would be done by now, right?
  • No. It is not.
  • (Incidentally, I also didn't hit 50K, but I wasn't exactly aiming there either, so . . . it's ok?)
  • I would like to say that this is solely because I had fewer minutes of writing time than I expected — which is true. A lot of my time this month went into freelancing and job searching — and not just time, but also a lot of mental and emotional energy, which I'll probably talk about later. And, of course, we had the start of the holiday season, which takes up more time.
  • The other part of it is that . . . well, I have this pattern that I tend to fall into when writing series. It goes something like this:
    • Me: *has an idea, gets really excited*
    • Me: *writes a simple, single-plot first book with either a single POV or dual POVs trading off on the same plot*
    • The Book: *is easy and fun to write; gets finished really fast*
    • Me: Hey, that was fun, and super chill. *shares or publishes that book*
    • Other people: Hey, we like this book!
    • Me: Wow, not only did I really enjoy writing that, other people seem to like reading it. I should write a sequel.
    • Me: *comes up with sequel idea*
    • The Sequel Idea: *has more POVs, more plotlines, and is generally more complex*
    • The Sequel Idea: *gets last-minute changes to what I planned*
    • The Sequel Idea: *takes more time and effort to write than I expected or than the first book did*
    • Me: *surprised Pikachu face*
  • Every. Time. This happens every. single. time. I'm not sure if this is a case of my being unable to learn from my mistakes or if I just keep hoping that this time will be different. And it never is. It happened with Blood in the Earth, as you all noticed. Before that, before I started publishing, it happened with my Berstru Tales (and got worse with every sequel, to the point where I decided it would be easier to go back and rewrite the stories from the beginning rather than keep trying to salvage the current Book 4), and it happened to my epic fairy tale retelling series (Book 2 of which took literally two years to write), and I have no doubt whatsoever that if and when I write a sequel to Mechanical Heart, it'll happen there too.
  • So, yes. In summary: sequels are hard, and I am continually surprised by this.
  • But!
  • I did write 32,874 words spread out over about 18.5 chapters, and I think I'm about halfway through my outline, so . . . that's good. We can still finish this by the end of December. It'll be great. Just darb, as Dayo would say.


  • I usually expect my reading to go down in November, but I actually had a pretty good month. It was helped along by the fact that I had a lot of books available that were low-energy, not quite comfort reads, but close enough. A lot of that reading was also graphic novels, manga, or comic compilations, so . . . there's that. (I actually just now realized that I only read four traditional books this month; oops.)
  • Anyway. I finished all the published books of Delicious in Dungeon and found them fairly enjoyable. I still like the early books best, but there are some good interactions, and we get backstory on characters, which is nice. And now I just have to wait for the last two books to be released. I also read Seven Little Sons of the Dragon, a collection of short stories by the same author, which was . . . well, the same sort of mixed bag as most anthologies. My favorites stories tended to be the ones that seemed like they might've been inspired by traditional myths or legends.
  • Finishing Delicious in Dungeon meant I could move on to the other manga I was really excited about, Magus of the Library. I've read the first two books so far, and I'm really enjoying it. I mean, a magical library and librarians, an Arabian-inspired world, a lot of book-based enthusiasm . . . what's not to like?
  • Moving back to Western graphic novels and comics: I read the third Adventure Zone graphic novel and enjoyed it quite a bit more than the first two. You can tell that the players have gotten to the point where they're coming to care about the characters other than their own and the world they inhabit, and that makes the story they're telling better, in my opinion. I also read both Strange Planet comic compilations (which were awesome; if you haven't read them and/or don't currently follow Nathan Pyle on Instagram, you should fix one or both of those things) and Tom Gauld's Department of Mind-Blowing Theories comic compilation. Both of these comic series are full of a type of humor I like quite a bit — one that pokes fun at humanity's oddities while also celebrating them, and yeah. 10/10, would recommend.
  • Finally, we come to the traditional novels! I started out with two rereads: Randall Munroe's What If? and Terry Pratchett's A Blink of the Screen, both of which I liked about as much on the reread as I did the first time around. Then, towards the end of the month, I read Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which has been on my TBR for a while. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it; the writing quality and the storytelling quality are both off the charts, but I really didn't like any of the characters at any point in the story. Then again, I'm not sure you're supposed to like the characters. It doesn't seem to be that sort of book.
  • And then we did a complete 180 and finally got around to Kat Cho's Wicked Fox, which is not a standalone as I thought but rather the first book in a series, and I am annoyed. Not as annoyed as I could be; it had a very satisfying ending. I'm just tired of thinking books are standalones and then discovering otherwise. But the story was good; it was nice to get a setting outside of America or Europe, and I think the author did a good job weaving in traditional Korean mythology with the modern world. I will say that I didn't entirely buy Miyoung and Jihoon's romance . . . but I more than bought their friendship and Jihoon's friendships with others, and that's more important to me anyway.
  • And we finish up this summary with a book that's half comic and half traditional text-based novel, Hyperbole and a Half. While I don't and never have followed the blog, I know of it via general internet culture and more specifically, Jen of Epbot and Cake Wrecks. And somehow it (and Allie Brosh's new book, Solutions and Other Problems, and The Bloggess's books) popped back up on my radar, and since I'm trying to read more outside the fantasy genre, I thought I'd pick it up. And while it's certainly not my favorite book I've ever read, it's still a good read. I don't know if I'll read it again (I may or may not), but I'm glad I read it once. You feel me?


  • Unlike my reading, my watching-of-stuff-that-isn't-short-YouTube-videos went way down this month.
  • I'm still crawling my way through Critical Role. I think I got in maybe two episodes this month? The problem, generally speaking, is that I am not enjoying the Avantika arc, and while I like Fjord as a character and Travis as a player, I really don't care that much about Fjord's backstory. I'd be almost tempted to just read summaries and skip this arc, but I also don't want to miss out on small, fun moments. (Like Fluffernutter. I finally got to that bit, and while it's funny out of context, it's hilarious in context.) So . . . here we are.
  • In terms of actual movies or similar, all we've watched are holiday shows (namely, the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Rudolph). We did finally get Disney+ to work with our TV, though, so maybe that'll change soon? (Probably not; Christmas movies take precedence in December. But there's always the possibility.)
  • Also, I just wanted to say that I discovered the Lockpocking Lawyer on YouTube this month, and his videos are . . . strangely addictive? They've pretty much been my procrastination method of choice as of late. LPL has a lot in common with Rybonator in that they have very calming voices and their videos are very focused on actually doing the thing rather than being clickbaity and repeating stuff a bunch of times, and it's just really nice. I also feel like I know more about security measures now, which is nice. And if I even need my characters to pick a lock, I know more than I used to about how that works too!
  • (I have also learned that you should never trust MasterLock or Hotel Safes, but yeah.)


  • This is always the hardest section of these Doings! posts. I have easily accessible records of what I wrote, read, and watched, but when it comes to life stuff, I basically have to rely on my memory. And my memory is . . . sporadic.
  • So. Most of the month was taken up by three things: writing, which I already talked about, and job searching and freelancing, which I said I was going to talk about. Not that there's a whole lot to say.
  • I had one interview this month, which went well, and I'm going in for a second with the same place soon. So that's exciting. I've never gotten to a second interview before.
  • As far as freelancing goes, it's nice to be doing design stuff with an actual purpose and project again. The difficult bit has been figuring out how to work well with a client when I'm the one doing the communication instead of someone else communicating with them and relaying requests to me. So that's been a bit of a learning curve, and a rather stressful one at that, which is what's taking most of the mental and emotional energy I was talking about.
  • On a happier note, we celebrated my birthday this month with lunch/dinner at my favorite Mexican place and a pecan pie cheesecake, both of which were DELICIOUS.
  • Speaking of deliciousness: Thanksgiving was excellent. A lot quieter than most years, since we were having it at home with just the four of us instead of with the whole Bible study group, but even that was nice in some respects. My dad borrowed a smoker and made smoked turkey, which turned out quite well. I made sourdough rolls and an apple-cranberry pie (and pie crust for my mom's pecan pie), both of which were also a success . . . even if the apple filling didn't cook as well as we thought it should have. (We're not sure what's up with that.)
  • And, of course, Thanksgiving meant that my younger sister came home from college, and due to her college's adjusted schedule, she won't go back until the new year. It's nice to have her back in the house. I've missed having someone to chat about books and stories and stuff with, plus I got the Sentinels of the Multiverse game for my birthday and now she and I can play that together. We can also play with my roommate via Zoom, which we did last Sunday. It works astonishingly well.
  • The last exciting thing I remember: I did another round of testing on my sourdough bread recipe combination, and I think I found a combo that I like. Essentially, I use the ingredient proportions and mixing method from the old recipe and the kneading and shaping method from the new one. The result is a loaf that has a good sourdough tang and is fluffy and domed enough to match my expectations but solid enough that you could use it for sandwiches. So that's my true baking victory of the month.
  • I think that pretty much covers it. Odds are, I'll remember something I should've included about five minutes after this post goes up, but if that happens, oh well.

December Plans

  • It's Christmas time! Which means sending out Christmas cards (I have my list; just gotta act on it now), hurrying to find or make Christmas gifts (though I'm ahead of the game this year for half the people I'm giving gifts to), and an abundance of Christmas cookies (many of which I will hopefully be making).
  • It also means Christmas music, which I'm enjoying in moderation. (The tragedy of my current WIP is that it's set in the summer, and so I absolutely cannot listen to Christmas music while writing it, even though Christmas music and swing/jazz go together super well.)
  • Speaking of the WIP, I intend to finish it this month. At the very latest, it needs to be finished early in the new year. Best-case scenario, I have it done before Christmas so I can use the week after Christmas to work on my New Year's short story. But I'm still going to be freelancing during that time, so . . . we'll see what happens.
  • I am also hoping to get in a good bit of Sentinels while my sister is home. That would be delightful. Time-consuming. But delightful.
  • That pretty much covers it, I think.

How was your November? Any exciting plans for December? Do you also have problems with being consistently surprised by the difficulty of sequel-writing?  Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Love and Memory Cover Reveal


Hello, y'all! I'm here with a cover reveal for Kendra E. Ardnek's next book, Love and Memory! I'm currently alpha-reading this book, and it's pretty awesome . . . and the cover is just as great. Want to see? I thought so. I'll show you in a minute, along with sharing a mini-interview . . . but first, a little about the book.

About Love and Memory

The Rizkaland Legends #3

When a Queen forgets,
Her enemies rejoice in her weakness.
But when the Queen remembers,
They tremble in fear.
When a King loves,
His country rejoices with him.
But when that love is broken.
The land is broken, too.
Can Water and Fire join again?
Can Love and Memory be restored?

They spent years in Rizkaland. They ruled the land, forged friendships, built families, and made it their home. But then it was time to return to Earth, and their former lives just don’t fit anymore. Clara and Andrew struggle to reevaluate their priorities when hundreds of miles separate them. Reuben and Petra are lost as they seek a balance between their old friendship and their Rizkan marriage. And Ashna and Noraeto never planned to return, so what live is there for them on Earth?

When the unthinkable happens and a new enemy arises, they’re all thrown back into Rizkaland, into a young prince’s rise to power and struggle to build alliances for his kingdom. But they no longer belong in their other world, either.

Are good memories too much to bear?

Preorder on Amazon || Add on Goodreads

About Kendra E. Ardnek

Kendra E. Ardnek is the self-proclaimed Arista of Fairy Tales. She lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her dragon babies and massive herd of mini-giraffes, and she is still waiting for one of of her fifty nutcrackers to come to life and marry her. When not writing, you can usually find her sitting in a random box, and she's frequently known to act before she thinks.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Newsletter || Instagram || TikTok || Amazon 

Excited yet? Ok, let's finally show off that gorgeous cover . . .

Mini-interview with Clara, Petra, and Kendra: What's the most important thing we should know about this book/your adventures in it?
Clara: This book is cruel and unusual punishment and I'd like to find the person who convinced Kendra to write it and ... I'm not going to finish that statement. Plausible deniability, you know.
Petra: I was an idiot and this book is not my finest moment. *sigh* Seriously!
Kendra: I apologize in advance?

Sounds about right . . . if you want to get a sneak peek of what they're talking about, you're in luck, because Broken, Part One of Love and Memory, is currently available for FREE on Amazon! So definitely go check that out.

 And if that's not enough books for you . . . As part of Perry Kirkpatrick’s Black Friday Sale, Kendra is offering book one, Water Princess, Fire Prince as a FREE ebook on Amazon, and book 2, Lady Dragon, Tela Du, is just 99 cents! (There are also quite a few OTHER awesome books available in that sale, including some of my favorite Arista Challenge releases, and, y'know, my books, so don't miss this opportunity.)

Are you excited for Love and Memory? Have you gotten any good books this Black Friday? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Black Friday is for BOOKS!

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Hello, everyone! I hope y'all had an excellent Thanksgiving (or an excellent Thursday, if you live outside the USA).

Now, I have a two questions for you. Do you need more books? And, do you like discounts on your books? Trick question; I already know the answer to both of those is yes. (Or, it probably is if you're like literally every other book-lover I've ever met.)

Since the answer is yes, go ahead and hop on over to the Perry Kirkpatrick Black Friday book sale! This sale contains dozens of ebooks discounted to $1 or less (some might even be free)! Some authors also have signed or discounted paperbacks on sale, so check those out.

As part of the sale, two of my books — Blood in the Snow and Mechanical Heart — will be available for $0.99 as ebooks. So, if you don't already own them, now's a great time to pick them up! (The Midnight Show is not technically part of the sale, but will be available for $0.99 starting on the 29th and ending December 3 — originally it was going to be, but things didn't work out with Amazon. It's included in this post because then you can find it more easily.)

(Alternately: if you don't care about sales, but you're starting your Christmas shopping now . . . you know what makes a great gift? Books. Especially paperback books. Especially paperback books by indie authors containing fairy tale retellings full of adventure, friendship, and magic. Do you see where I'm going with this?)

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Blood in the Snow
Her destiny is decided — but betrayal breaks even the best-laid plans.

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Mechanical Heart
Can you save someone who doesn’t know if she’s alive?

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The Midnight Show
This mystery is the case of his dreams — and her nightmares.

Happy browsing! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have Christmas decorating to do.
Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, November 6, 2020

October 2020 Doings!

Oh, look. It's November now. Everyone still alive? Reasonably sane? Fabulous. We all know that October basically lasted 0.05 seconds, but we're going to recap it anyway, because that's what we do.


  • October was kind of a mixed month on the writing front. To start on a happy note, I finished Blood in the Earth (huzzah!)! It's going to take a lot of editing, and the last page of my notebook is literally a list of all the things I want to fix when I rewrite the story. Including but not limited to: fixing the timeline, reconfiguring at least one subplot, establishing the existence of certain things that prove essential to the climax, and, oh yeah, reworking characterization in the first half of the book to be consistent with the end because my relationship with most of the characters in this book can be summarized in the following meme:

  • But the point is: it's done, and the climax turned out really cool and genuinely kinda cinematic (like, I want there to be a movie or an anime of this book so I can watch the climax onscreen), and the ending is a good balance of bittersweet and truly happy, and all those unexpected character twists spawned possibilities for two or three short stories or spin-off novellas, so we're all good.
  • Anyway. Having finished BitE, I jumped headfirst back into working on my D&D campaign so I could get it written and ready to the point where I probably won't have to work on it much at all in November, other than the usual prep for actually running sessions. Well, I do have one side-quest I might need to write, but, worst-case scenario, I'll improv. It'll be fine. (Fiiiiine.)
  • Then, once I was satisfied with where my D&D campaign was, I switched gears and started prepping for the sequel to The Midnight Show! For those who missed my Know the Novel post last Friday, the TMS Sequel is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red and maaaaaaaybe one other secret fairy tale. Bastian is back with a new case, and now his sisters are in the picture too . . . except that one of them is missing.
  • So, yeah. I started drafting the novel pre-November, but it's also my NaNoWriMo novel, which is fun. (NaNoWriMo is going. I'm not making par for 50K most days, due to some other responsibilities that I'll talk about later in the post, but I'm making par for "Finish the book by the end of the month so you can edit in December," and that's what matters.)


  • After a light and rough reading month in September, we've hit the rebound!
  • I finished rereading Warden and the Wolf King and Fellowship of the Ring, which were both excellent as expected. I've missed Middle Earth more than I realized. I'm looking forward to The Two Towers — though I'm going to have to reevaluate my current reads a bit to figure out how to fit it in. I started reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell without realizing what kind of book it was, and I don't think I want to try to manage it and LOTR at the same time. I've become more open to reading two books at the same time (in a specific combination, where one is long and more of a classic feel that takes more focus and one is shorter and more modern and doesn't require a great deal of energy to enjoy), but yeah.
  • I continued reading both the Delicious in Dungeon and Seven Deadly Sins manga series. Delicious in Dungeon got put on hold for a bit because I wanted some spookier or eerier reads for Halloween, but I'm still enjoying it, and I just picked book six up on Wednesday. So that's fun. Seven Deadly Sins, I'm having mixed feelings over. Most of the mixed feelings are about Ban — at first, I thought he was cool and interesting, and then it was like "No. He's a storming jerk." And then it was like "Shoot. He's still kind of a jerk, but also maybe not? And he is sort of interesting after all?" And it basically ended with "I'm attached to this character, but I'm really salty about it." I have this problem semi-frequently when it comes to manga and anime, for the record. Anyway. I'm four books in, and I'm not sure whether or not I'm going to continue the series. We'll see.
  • And then we shift into my Halloween reads! Some of which ended up being less Halloween-ish than I expected. My reread of The Screaming Staircase was delightful, of course, though a little bit of the spookiness was lost in the reread. And The Hazel Wood was haunting and excellent, if a bit slow to get me really interested. I did not see the twists coming. It's an excellent take on portal fantasy, let me just say.
  • Aunt Maria was not what I expected, but it was also excellent. DWJ references the book a lot in the essays in Reflections, so this has been on my TBR for a while. I'm glad I finally picked it up. My other DWJ read, Wild Robert, was smaller and weirder than I expected — a fun short story, true, and funny as well, but not my favorite DWJ. I was hoping to fit one more DWJ in here, Fire and Hemlock, but that didn't happen, sadly.
  • To finish up this summary, we have two murder mysteries that couldn't be more different. I finally dipped my toes in the Harry Dresden series with Storm Front, and I have mixed feelings — basically, it's a fascinating world, an excellent story, and some genuinely interesting characters, but it's also a bit more than expected in terms of how dark it is and how blatantly it discusses certain topics. Like, I knew it would be darker than most of my reads. I knew it involved those topics, which is why I didn't read it ages ago. I just didn't expect how much. And now I'm torn between wanting to know more of the story (especially since I've heard the books do keep getting better) and . . . yeah.
  • Anyway. The other murder mystery was pretty much the exact opposite of the Dresdenverse: A Morbid Taste for Bones, the first of the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. I have to say, why did I not pick up this book sooner? It's historical fiction, true, but the good kind. And it kind of has the feel of . . . I don't know, like someone distilled the vibes out of Robin Hood and Ranger's Apprentice, poured it into a 12th-century monastery, and then added a heaping helping of murder mystery. Brother Cadfael is great, and the rest of the characters are interesting, and I am absolutely reading more of this series.
  • Finally, a quick update on my reading goals.
    • I've met my overall goal for number of books read: 100 out of 99, as of Wednesday morning. So that's great. Not that it's going to stop me reading more, but y'know.
    • With the addition of A Morbid Taste for Bones, I've hit ten non-speculative fiction books, which means I have two to go. I did request several autobiographies from the library recently, though, and I'm planning to reread What If? soon, so that should be doable. With luck, I'll pass that goal too.
    • And I'd already hit my goal of twelve books written before I was born, but I've gotten all the way up to 16 at this point — still counting the whole Redwall series as one book. At some point, I should go through and see how many of those 16 are DWJ books, but we'll save that for my end-of-year recap.


  • So, I've officially seen both Men in Black and The Matrix now, so that's fun.
  • I actually really liked Men in Black. Were there elements I wasn't a fan of? Sure. But it's kind of the sci-fi equivalent of urban fantasy, and it has a good balance of humor and serious moments. Sure, there were some cringe bits and some gross moments, but it was still a lot of fun. And I really appreciate that even the occasional secondhand embarrassment came out of J being genuinely excited or curious or wanting to help people (or occasionally the fact that he's too busy getting stuff done and thinking for himself to care about what everyone else in the room things, which I can also get behind).
  • The Matrix was interesting and weird and . . . I mean, I can see why it's such a cultural phenomenon and why it's considered such a major sci-fi movie. It is a genuinely good movie. And, I mean, yes, it is in many respects a fairly standard Chosen One narrative, and a wish-fulfillment-y one at that, and pretty much everyone except Tank and the Oracle feels like they're going out of their way to be as dramatic as possible 100% of the time. And I could've done without some of the body horror. But there were some good twists on the tropes as well, and overdramatic or not, the fight scenes get full points for style.
  • Other than that, it's pretty much the same as usual. Still watching Firefly with the fam (two more episodes in, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the episode Bushwacked). Still slowly making my way through Critical Role and kind of amused by the fact that Travis himself seems so genuinely freaked out/concerned by all his backstory-related stuff that's happening. It's like . . . honestly, I relate. But also, it's funny.
  • (But I'm still only to . . . 37? 38? Something like that? And that's with watching since May-ish. So, yeah. Slow going.)


  • So, the most exciting thing that happened this month is probably that my family finally got proper internet. For context: for the past three years, ever since my family moved back to Virginia, we'd been working off a mobile hotspot because we didn't have any other internet options available. And it worked, mostly — true, it was tiresome having to schedule our online activities around whether we had high-speed or low-speed data, and true, it was a bit annoying to have to go somewhere else (or else disconnect all but one device) when we needed to do a video call or download updates on a device or anything else like that. And, of course, it was kind of problematic in March and April when the libraries and other places we'd usually go to use the WiFi closed. But, y'know. It worked, and it was better than nothing at all.
  • But now we have actual internet, thank God. And it is so nice to be able to just . . . do stuff. To not have to worry about whether we're on fast or slow data, or whether I can get to the library to download stuff I need to download, or whether or not my D&D group can actually meet via Zoom or if we have to do it via voice on Discord. I can apply for remote-work jobs without wondering if I'll be able to make meetings and complete projects if I get it. I don't even have to worry about whether or not I'm slowing down someone else's internet activities with mine. It's wonderful.
  • Anyway. The other exciting thing that happened this month was that I almost had a job. Almost. There was an actual offer — well, not exactly. There were some emails, and an (astonishingly short) interview, and then a statement: You can start training on [date] at [time]. It felt off. So I emailed back to find out things like How much are you paying me, and What about benefits, and Why exactly do you think I need three months of training when I could've done most of what you want me to do before I went to college? And through his response to those questions and some conversations with a very helpful family friend with plenty of business sense, we figured out, in short, that this company was trying to pay (or, more accurately, underpay) me as a freelancer while having me work as if I were a full-time employee. Which, my friends, I was having none of. 
  • So, at the suggestion of the very helpful family friend, I emailed back to point out the discrepancies and give the company a chance to try to correct themselves. The response to which was, in short Hello, I think you'd be a better fit somewhere else, good luck, goodbye. So that was that, and I have no regrets.
  • And then I went through interviews at two other jobs and didn't get those either, which is a bit disappointing. Both of them were much closer to what I actually want to do, and with companies I would've actually liked to work for. But it is what it is, and, as I already said, now I can apply for remote-work jobs, and even freelance for a while if I so choose. (Which I am doing a little bit of right now; a friend of a friend's family needed some logos and brand work done, and that friend's family pointed him to me. So that's my other big project at the moment.) And sooner or later, something will work out. God knows what's up.
  • Anyway. On a happier note, I finally finished the cloak I've been working on for over a year, and I got to wear it to an actual event. My church did a drive-through Trunk or Treat, and I signed up to man a trunk — which basically meant dressing up, decorating, and then sitting there and waving to people as they drove through. It wasn't the most exciting time, plus it rained, but hey! My cloak turned out well! I think I'm still going to make some more adjustments; namely, I'm going to add a second fastener (possibly two more, one of them hidden), and I'm going to add more reinforcement to keep it from stretching out. But it's comfortable to wear and doesn't threaten to choke me, so that's good. (I don't have any good pictures at the moment, sorry.)
  • I also made two pies (one pecan, one cheddar-pear), pretzel bites, and the first stage of improvements to the new sourdough bread recipe. As it turns out, weighing ingredients is exactly as overrated as I thought it was, and there's also no reason whatsoever to literally stick your hand in the bowl to mix it when there's a machine a yard away that can do the same thing but better. On the other hand, tipping the loaf out of the Dutch oven halfway through but not putting it on a tray or something when it goes back in the actual oven does not solve the problem of "the bottom crust is super hard" and, in fact, makes it much worse, in that it burns the bottom crust. So that's a thing we're not going to do next time.
  • On the D&D front, one of my groups didn't meet at all in October, though we did meet this past Tuesday, which was a fun session — I finally got to use Toll the Dead, and I managed to stay out of melee range of the aberration that nearly killed our druid, and we met an NPC who was pretty interesting, and we finished a quest line, all in one day. It was great. In the other campaign I don't run, we've met a little more often and made a bit more progress, but the most exciting thing is that our group has an actual name now. We're officially the Light Bringers, which I'd say is a pretty snazzy name.
  • And in Defenders of Serys (aka the campaign I do run), we spent more time than I expected on one piece of the story, but it's fine. We did officially make it out to see at last, we've had the first two thirds of our first pirate battle . . . and I remembered why I usually don't run big combats. But it's fine. I have very patient (and also terrifyingly effective at times) players.

November Plans

  • It's NaNoWriMo. What do you think I'm doing?
  • Ok, technically I'm not exactly doing the full 50K. I'd like to get a full 50K, but if I do, it'll be something along the lines of 35K first draft and 15K rewrites. But, as I said already, I'm working on the sequel to The Midnight Show, and it's going to be great.
  • That said, even thought I'm not going for the full 50K, I am going to take a month's hiatus from regular blog posting. There'll be one or two posts for promo things, like the Perry Kirkpatrick Black Friday book sale, but that's all.
  • Outside of writing, it's back to another round of job apps. Plus the freelance logo project, which is pretty interesting. We'll see what happens on that end.
  • November is also Thanksgiving, which is going to be kind of weird. It'll be the first time in a long while that we've had it at home and not with our Bible study. I really am disappointed that we won't get to have the full gathering or anything like it, but it is what it is.
  • Also my birthday's in November, so, y'know, that's a thing.
  • In whatever spare time I have left, I need to start thinking about Christmas presents, especially if I'm going to make anything. Which I might. You never know. And I get to start anticipating listening to Christmas music, which is quite exciting.

How was your October? Any exciting plans for November? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 30, 2020

No Post Today; Check My Other Blog!


Just wanted to let y'all know that there's no post here on Dreams and Dragons today. Instead, I'm doing the first part of the Know the Novel linkup over on Light and Shadows. So definitely go check that out if you want to know about my next project/current WIP!

Thanks for understanding! Have a great day!

Friday, October 23, 2020

D&D's Worth for a Writer

 Happy Friday, everyone! So, everyone probably has figured out by now that I am a pretty big fan of D&D and tabletop roleplaying games in general. I play in two games, I run another, and I'm in the process of writing two campaigns, which between them get roughly the same amount of time, energy, and excitement as my actual novels. Some of my best memories of the last couple of years come from D&D sessions, and weekly D&D games have helped me keep some of my college friendships not only alive but thriving. So, yeah. Whatever its reputation, D&D can bring about a lot of good things.

But I'm not here to talk about the pros of D&D for people in general (though I totally will write that post if anyone wants to read it). I'm here to talk about how D&D can help writers specifically. And I'm not just looking at people who write and run a full homebrewed campaign; these points apply to players and DMs alike, whether they're working with a pre-written campaign and world or a completely original story and storyworld. Some will apply more to certain situations, but I think they're all pretty universal.

D&D's Worth for a Writer

  1. It teaches you how to hold your stories with a loose hand. For many writers, it can be difficult to see past your particular plans for your story, whether it's a full outline you've built or the way you think a character is or a scene you really want to have happen. We get caught up on these things and, as a result, get stuck because we didn't see the better option. But if there is one truly universal constant in D&D, it's that you can never get too attached to a particular way you want a story to go. Sometimes things will work out how you planned. But there are a lot of factors to consider — the DM, the (other) players, your own ability to speak, and, of course, the dice — and sometimes . . . it doesn't happen. Your players take out the long-term boss after only two encounters. Your DM throws a whole flight of blue dragons at a city you thought was safe. A fellow player turns on the party or decides his character is going to have a mental breakdown. The story you thought you were going to tell isn't going to work, so you have to be willing to improvise — but the story as a whole ends up better for it. The same is true in writing. Maybe the story isn't going to go the way you thought it was going to go. Or maybe your beta readers say that scene you love needs to go. It's not fun. But a willingness to improvise, to hold your story loosely, will bring a better result.
  2. It helps you learn how to tell a story with others. This is related to my previous point, but still somewhat different. D&D is a game in which four or five different people are trying to tell at least that many stories at the same time and interwoven with one another. You have to learn how to share the spotlight and how to build off each other. You have to learn each others' strengths and your own strengths and play off of each other. And these are the same skills you need (in a more intense form) if you want to do any form of collaborative writing, whether that's coauthoring a book, sharing a storyworld, or any other type of collaborative formalized storytelling.
  3. It's a good testing ground for new ideas. This one does apply more to DMs than players, since it's hard for players to bring something in for the short term and then drop it if it doesn't work out. But if you have that freedom (or if you don't mind doing some long-term testing), D&D can be a great way to see how people react to a particular character, dynamic, concept, or so on. You just have to keep in mind that your creations may not come off like you imagined them in your head . . . and they're always at the mercy of the dice. (And that is why a particular NPC, who was supposed to be thoroughly epic and mysterious, instead became the subject of many a joke . . . but it's fine. He works better in written form.)
  4. It allows you to tell stories you can't tell in a traditional form. I am never one to disparage the written word. But some stories, characters, and concepts can be better explored in other media (which is also one of the big reasons I think certain types of anime, graphic novels, and webcomics are super cool . . . but that's a topic for another post). You can take the story of a D&D campaign and write it down as a book, and it may or may not work depending on how you go about it and how much editing you do. But, in many cases, you couldn't have written that story first because you wouldn't have thought to write it the way it happened. The funny thing is, though, that telling those stories helps you write the other stories better because it gives you another perspective and thoughtspace to work from.
  5. It teaches you a lot about worldbuilding. This is the most DM-centric point here. Worldbuilding is key in any fantasy story, but it's especially important in D&D. Why? Because your players need to, in a certain sense, live in the world you're building, more so than readers need to live in a book's storyworld. And you have both less time to introduce setting elements than you would in a book (after all, as a DM, you can only talk for so long before your players start getting annoyed) and fewer opportunities to reinforce those elements. So, you have to make the most of what space you can use, which means making sure you can attach important details to things people remember — which usually means backstory or people. It's a challenge. But once you've done it for a while, or once you watch a DM do it well for a while, you can pick up ways to give your written worldbuilding a little more oomph.

Do you play D&D, or are you interested in playing D&D? What other benefits do you think roleplaying might have for writers? Or, if you're not into roleplaying, what's something you've learned about writing from a not-explicitly-writing hobby? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Autumnal Anytime Reads

Hey'a, all! So, a few years ago, I did a Friday 5s post that I really enjoyed: Summer Anytime Reads, a collection of books (and some bonus recommendations) that I felt were really summertime books. I've been meaning to do a followup for . . . well, years, but never really got around to it (and never really had enough books to suit any one season). However, I have finally changed that fact! Some of these are selected because they actually relate to some aspect of autumn, some because they take place in the fall, and some just . . . y'know. They have the right vibe. So, without further ado, here are your Autumnal Anytime Reads!

Autumnal Anytime Reads

An Enchantment of Ravens cover

  1. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. I mean, the transition from summer to autumn is literally a plot point here, and Rook is the autumn prince, so . . . kind of an obvious choice? But I would also say that Enchantment effectively captures the feel of fall as well, from the descriptions and colors to the emphasis on making and creating (fall usually feels very crafty to me, though maybe that's just because of Halloween) to the juxtaposition of life and death and the idea of things dying to make way for new life.
    If you liked An Enchantment of Ravens, try: Fairest Son by H.S.J. Williams (for fae magic and fairy tale vibes) or The Dark King's Curse by Wyn Estelle Owens (for seaonal fae and fabulous autumnal rulers).

  2. Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag. I almost put this one as a readalike for An Enchantment of Ravens, but then I decided that it deserved its own spot. Though this book spans multiple seasons, it carries a very classic autumnal vibe all the way through, especially in the author's very rich language and descriptions. But where Enchantment is very early autumn, Plenilune is late autumn, when skies are grey more days than not and the encroaching greys and browns make the last bits of color stand out all the more brightly and fires in the fireplace are appreciated for more than just the aesthetic, if that makes sense. And, once again, it has that feel of death bringing about new growth and life. Plus, this book has a very classic, slower-moving, spiced-cider kind of feel that really seems very autumnal.
    If you liked Plenilune, try: Pendragon's Heir by Suzannah Rowntree (for kingdom intrigue and classic feel). I seriously cannot think of another readalike for this at the moment, but if you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in comments.

  3. The Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis. This series takes place primarily in fall (all except for book 2, which is midwinter and feels like it). In addition, Books 1 and 3 are very effective examples of two kinds of fall-related stories. School stories often seem very autumnal (mostly because of "back to school"), and a lot of the conflicts in Book 1 begin in or relate to that. And in Book 3, of course, the whole story takes place right around Halloween and takes advantage of the legends surrounding that holiday — specifically, that Halloween is the night on which the borders between realms and dimensions are the thinnest.   
    If you liked The Dragons in Our Midst, try:
    The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (for allegory and colorful characters) or The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight (for strong Christian characters and dragons).

  4. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Speaking of Halloween, we can't go through autumn reads without discussing some deliciously creepy or scary tales! The Screaming Staircase has just the right amount of spine-chilling creepiness without becoming horror for the sake of horror, and it leans heavily on traditional lore while adding its own twists. It also has an excellent mystery, and I'd say that fall and winter are an excellent time for mysteries. For the record, I'd actually say the whole series fits the vibe of fall read fairly well; the first book just happens to be the one I like best.
    If you liked The Screaming Staircase, try: The Crocket and Crane series by Kyle Robert Shultz (for spooky legends and, especially after Book 1, plenty of creepiness, plus snarky friendships) or Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (for lore-based fantasy mystery).

  5. The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs. We end this list with a series that I think effectively bridges fall and winter. The Book of Names starts in November, and it feels like a November/early December sort of book. Part of that is the atmosphere and the book's reliance on Welsh and Arthurian Legend (which I often associate with fall). The other part of it, though, is the aspect of the Nameless and the darkening of the world. Though I love fall and the change in seasons, I often find that late fall and winter are times of the year when I tend to feel much more tired and discouraged than usual, and I think The Book of Names and the rest of the Karac Tor series reflects that struggle in certain ways.
    If you liked The Book of Names, try: The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (for shared basis in Welsh mythology) or the Beyonders series by Brandon Mull, especially books 2 and 3 (for unconventional portal fantasy and portal adventures that leave a mark).

What are your favorite autumnal reads? Are there any of my picks that you especially agree or disagree with? Please tell me in the comments! Also, many thanks to my sister for helping me come up with readalikes when I was stuck on some of these.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Reasons to Love the Wingfeather Saga (Part the Second)

Hey'a, everyone! Guess who's actually going to do this in a timely fashion this time around? As you quite possibly know, Andrew Peterson and Waterbrook Press have been re-releasing the Wingfeather Saga with all new covers and artwork, and the second two books — The Monster in the Hollows and Warden and the Wolf King — just came out this past Tuesday. Accordingly, I have Part the Second of my non-exhaustive list of reasons to love (and read, and reread, and reread again) the Wingfeather Saga, this time focusing primarily on the third and fourth book.

Reasons to Love the Wingfeather Saga (Part the Second)

  1. It has its own take on the "after the adventure ends" story. Technically, the adventure has not ended in Monster in the Hollows, but it does deal with the same sort of thing: after you've trekked across the country with foes close behind, after you've faced battles and betrayals, after you've lost friends, after you've found yourself trapped in the worst places, what happens when you try to fit back in to some kind of normal? What does making a new life actually look like? I love stories that deal with this, and Monster is no exception.
  2. It pays attention to those who aren't necessarily the heroes, but who get caught up in their swirl. Arguably my favorite part of Monster in the Hollows isn't the main, Wingfeather-centric storyline, but rather a subplot that deals with Sara Cobbler. Why? Because the Wingfeather trio is Destined. They will do great things whether they intend to or not because others will put them in a place to do that by virtue of their birth. Sara is not, in a narrative sense, Destined. But she got caught up in the swirl of someone who was, ever so briefly, and she chose to keep acting heroically after he was gone. She could've stood by and waited for help to come, but she didn't. She acted. And then, in Warden, we see her, again, not as the hero, but as the one who supports the heroes and tends to those left hurting by evil and the battles against evil.
  3. I said this in the last post, but it bears repeating: It is very, very much a family-focused tale. We have the Wingfeather family, pulling together in the face of both new and old challenges, figuring out how to love even when there's resentment and pain in the way. But we also have found and broken family stories back in Skree that are just as beautiful. So many of the choices in this book are driven by the decision to love a family member well, and I think that's fabulous.
  4. If you read the first and second books, there are revelations you don't want to miss. I can't say a lot more than that because, you know, spoilers. But there are answers to your questions (even some questions you didn't know you had), and they're pretty awesome.
  5. It's a story of brokenness and restoration, and I think we can all use that. I don't really have much to add to this point either, to be honest. I know there are a lot of stories of brokenness and restoration out there, especially among Christian fiction. But the Wingfeather Saga is one of the better ones.

How excited are you for the new versions of the Wingfeather Saga books? What do you love about the series? If you haven't read it yet, have I convinced you to try it yet? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 2, 2020

September 2020 Doings!

 Well, here we are. Solidly into fall, and three-quarters of the way through 2020. As always, there's some Doings to report, so let's go.


  • (It only took me two years and two months to get to that point . . .)
  • But yeah. BitS/E and my two D&D campaigns have been my main focuses this month, writing-wise, and I've been really pushing to get to the end of Blood in the Soil/Earth. And I am ALMOST THERE. By which I mean I have two, maybe two and a half scenes left, and I'll likely finish for real sometime in the next few days.
  • Also, I wrote 2.3K words on BitS/E on Wednesday because I'd gotten to the really exciting part of the climax in which various characters come into their own and I didn't want to stop until all the thoughts in my head were on paper. And then I wrote another 1.3K words on one of my D&D campaigns. I don't think I've written that many words in one day in months. (Not since I wrote the end of The Midnight Show back on June 8, to be exact.)
  • D&D campaigns are also going well, for those curious. I have all three paths outlined for the campaign I'm actively running, and everyone seems to be having fun running around and exploring a new city and preparing to hunt pirates. I also have a pretty good idea, I think, of which of the three paths my players are going to choose. (If nothing else, I have a very good idea of which path they're probably not going to choose. Though, y'know, they very well could surprise me.)
  • As far as the campaign I'm just writing goes, progress has slowed down a little, but it's fun too. It's a very different story and encounter structure than that of the Defenders of Serys, simultaneously more and less linear. I'm also having to figure out how to combine puzzles (of a sort, at least) with combat, which is an interesting challenge. (I'm also homebrewing a bunch of stuff, mainly monsters and magic items, and that's fun too.)
  • And, of course, we had the Silmaril Awards this month! I got to host the Most Magnificent Dragon category, and I'm happy to say that it went off more or less without a hitch. If you didn't get to read this year's awards, you should definitely go check them out, see who won, and enjoy all the fabulous ceremonies. You can find the complete list of ceremonies, in order, here on the website.


  • This was a much lighter reading month than last month, despite my high hopes of doing lots of pre-Silmaril Awards rereading. (I think that's because I tried to force it instead of going with what I was really in the mood for. So that was a mistake.)
  • I only read one and two halves actual books this month. The first half was finishing Crimson Bound, which I actually started last month. I stand by my initial assessment of the book: it had potential, but it really didn't measure up to what I wanted it to be. Instead of maintaining the intrigue and myth, it got bogged down in romance, angst, and drama.
  • The other one and a half were my reread of the second two Wingfeather Saga books: The Monster in the Hollows and The Warden and the Wolf King. Both were, of course, good, though Monster took me much longer than it should have. (Again: I don't think I was in the mood for it most of the time I was reading it.) I did gain a new appreciation for Sara Cobbler's subplot, though, so that's lovely. Technically I'm still reading Warden, but I'm reasonably close to done at this point.
  • The rest of this month's reads? All graphic novels and manga. I have to admit, it was really fun to explore this medium more (and appreciate all the lovely artwork).
  • The three actual graphic novels were all based off D&D podcasts: two off The Adventure Zone, and one off the first Critical Role campaign. I definitely liked the Critical Role one (Vox Machina: Origins Volume 1) better, but that may be because I'm already familiar with (and attached to) the players and DM behind the characters and story, so I had a better idea what to expect in terms of style. (I also might've had overly high expectations for TAZ, since I'm used to Critical Role and my personal experiences with D&D, and those seem to have a very different tone than TAZ.)
  • I also started reading two manga series: The Seven Deadly Sins (because I have a friend who likes the anime) and Delicious in Dungeon (because it sounded fun). I'm not terribly crazy about the former, but I'm really enjoying Delicious in Dungeon, or at least the first three volumes of it. It really is a cool perspective on dungeon-crawling-style adventures and RPG worlds, plus it's very focused on food and friendship. So, y'know, several of my favorite things in one story.
  • Finally, I have restarted my Lord of the Rings reread! It is going . . . slowly. I'm once again trying to journal the reread, and I think I might need to not do that — I sometimes don't read it even when I have time for a chapter because I don't want to have to write stuff about it afterward. But at the same time, I started the journaling thing and now I feel like I should finish it. Gah.
  • As a quick update on my reading goals:
    • I'm currently at 87 out of 99 books overall, which means I'm ahead of schedule. And once I finish Warden, I have a lot of quicker reads coming up, so I'm confident I can finish on time.
    • I'm still at nine non-speculative fiction books out of my goal of twelve, so I need to get busy with that. Part of the problem may be that I haven't been in the headspace to read Lewis or Chesterton's nonfiction works like I intended to at one point. Still, that's only about a book a month to hit my goal, which should be more than manageable.
    • As for my final reading goal, I have hit my goal of twelve books written before I was born, thanks to The Hobbit and Beauty. Very few of the books I ended up counting towards this goal were ones I planned to read at the start of the year, but y'know? I shouldn't be surprised. I'm very much a mood reader, after all.


  • So, I finally convinced my family to give Firefly a try! And they didn't hate it! So that's good!
  • (Not that I thought they would hate it, since I wouldn't have suggested it if I did. But there's always that little bit of concern, y'know?)
  • Anyway. It was really fun to get to watch some of the show again. We just did the first double-episode, but people seemed open to watching more, and I'm hopeful we'll do that soon.
  • On the downside, I forgot how many awkward scenes there are with Inara, even in just the first episode. Gah. I would ask if there's a point at which watching those kinds of scenes with your parents in the room becomes non-awkward, but I find them awkward even when the family isn't there. So. Yeah. (Plus, I'm caught in the "Well, if I bring it up, then it's more awkward, but if I don't somehow show that I am Not Actually Enjoying This, they'll think I'm ok with it, which I'm not, what do I do, panic" cycle. So that's a thing.)
  • We also watched Clue, which was fun! None of us had seen it before, but I was pretty sure I remembered that my roommate liked it, and it was on Prime as part of a promotion, so we decided to give it a try. And I do think it was a good choice; I enjoyed the humor, and I'm almost always down for a good murder mystery.
  • Besides that, I'm still slowly working my way through Critical Role. I am quite liking Caduceus, much more so than I expected. And Caleb remains my favorite character. It's also fun watching this and knowing comparatively little about D&D tactics, so while people in the comments of the videos are getting mad about how this character should've done that instead of what they actually did, I'm just watching and being like "Yeah, that seems like a thing this character would do" (or sometimes "Yeah, that's what I would do as a player if I had a cool new ability I wanted to try out").


  • As you can see from the picture: I got a new bookshelf! It's huge, and it's really meant more for an office or a library or something, but I absolutely do not care in the slightest. It is immense and beautiful and may allow me to not need another shelf until whenever I eventually move out. And I know I am not maximizing the space on it as well as I probably could, but it's fine. I can rearrange again in November or December if I really want to.
  • On a less cheerful note: something that I technically knew but which hadn't really registered for the last four years is that cooler weather in an older house with an actual yard means Every Weekend Is Yardwork. Or deck work. Or otherwise outdoor work. We haven't even started cutting up fallen trees or raking leaves yet, and it's already a thing. Not that I'm complaining, especially since I've gotten off easy in terms of the amount of work I, personally, have had to do. (There are many benefits to Saturday afternoon D&D sessions, as it turns out.) It's just . . . still kind of a lot. And I am not an outdoors person or a lifting-heavy-things person in the slightest. (I'm also not a fan of anything that interferes with my meal schedule — yes, I'm basically a taller-than-average hobbit, how'd you guess?)
  • Aside from that, we have, of course, the continuing saga of the job search. I've had a few interviews, though most of them went nowhere. I did have one yesterday that seemed very promising, though? So maybe the saga is almost over? If not, well, there's something hopefully happening next month that may let me cast my net a little wider (and expand my skill portfolio even further).
  • I'm also back to working on my cloak, hoping to have it done in time for Halloween stuff. All I have left is the hood and some trim/edging/stabilization stuff, so that doesn't seem like an unreasonable goal.
  • Aaaand I tried a new sourdough recipe, and I have very mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I severely dislike actually making it. It requires mixing very sticky dough by hand (literally; you're supposed to stick your hands in it to mix it rather than use a stand mixer or even a wooden spoon), and has to be tended every half hour for several hours out of the day, and all the measurements are in metric by weight, which — look, fine, maybe it's more accurate or whatever, but, (1) my kitchen scale is old, so all my weight measurements are almost certainly off, (2) I can't even measure some of the smaller quantities, (3) it's a lot of hassle, and (4) I do not care. I just want to make and eat bread. On that note and on the other hand, the bread is delicious and way lighter and fluffier than the bread I usually make. So that's a struggle. I'm hoping to try to combine the recipes sometime to get a version that gives maximum yumminess for minimal effort, but I haven't had time due to the Every Weekend is Yardwork thing. (I may manage today, though, if all goes to my plan.)

October Plans

  • I AM GOING TO FINISH BLOOD IN THE SOIL/EARTH. I am also going to officially decide on a name. Hopefully.
  • Once that's done, I'll take a short noveling break and then I may or may not start writing my next book. I'd like to. I have a Midnight Snow sequel in mind, and I think it'll be fun if I can get the details worked out. (I do need to plan stuff well before I start writing, though, because I want — and need — this to be another short project like TMS.)
  • I also get to start thinking about Halloween stuff! I signed up for my church's drive-through Trunk or Treat, so now I need to figure out how to decorate the back of my car in a fantasy-ish manner. Or possibly steampunk-ish, but I'm leaning towards fantasy because that gives me a wider variety of costume options to work with and will allow me to adapt more to whatever the weather happens to be.
  • As far as reading goes, I'm going to continue my LOTR reread and my ventures into manga and graphic novels, and I'd like to do some of the rereading that I didn't end up doing in September. Plus, there's the Return of the Thief release, which I am SO PSYCHED FOR.

How was your September? Any exciting plans for October? How do you feel about manga and graphic novels? How would you go about doing a fantasy-themed trunk for Trunk or Treat? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!