Sunday, May 3, 2020

April 2020 Doings!

Well. That month probably existed. I mean, I'm 90% sure it did and it wasn't just a mass hallucination since a couple reasonably significant things happened in it. But since I may look back in the future and have my doubts, let's get going with recording the Doings!


  • My goal for April Camp NaNoWriMo was 30,000 words, 15K of which were in Blood in the Soil/Earth, and 15K of which were in other projects — namely, D&D, a white paper about NaNoWriMo, and my capstone paper. And I'm happy to say that I pretty much achieved that, with a grand total of 36,046 words at the end of the month. Plus, I actually wrote every day in April, which makes me happy! (It helps that I really wanted to get those writing streak badges on the NaNoWriMo site.) I hit my official Camp goal on April 25, the same day I finished drafting my capstone. (As it turns out, including your 15-page academic paper in your Camp wordcount is a great way to boost things up and keep yourself from getting distracted from said capstone.)
  • My wordcount per project wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. I ended up with only about 13K words in Blood in the Soil/Earth and a bit over 2K in other projects. Again, a lot of that was because I spent a few days working on my capstone and only my capstone, plus I slowed down on everything once I hit my goal. (I did flirt with the idea of trying to hit 40K, but decided I had too many other things that needed my time and energy.)


  • So, yes. Another low reading month. On the upside, four out of the five were really good books, and the last one wasn't bad.
  • On Stories, Adorning the Dark, and Orthodoxy were all for my capstone. I can't recommend the first two highly enough; if you are a writer or you want to be a writer or you enjoy creative pursuits in general, you need to read them. They aren't "how to write" books, but they have a lot of wisdom and insight and are generally very enjoyable to read. I was less impressed with Orthodoxy, but I was also reading it on a time crunch and frustrated by the fact that it wasn't as relevant to my actual capstone as I wanted it to be. (Also, I was tired and couldn't appreciate it as much as I wanted to.) I may have to come back to that one at a later date when I'm less exhausted.
  • On the fiction side, I read Moonscript (which I had as an ARC) and Empress of All Seasons (which was also an ARC, but one I won from Emma of Awkwordly Emma). I'm in the blog tour for Moonscript, so you'll hear quite a bit about it in a week or two — though I have been helping Hannah share character art on Instagram, so if you've seen that, you've seen a bit of my fangirling. For the moment, suffice it to say that it was excellent. Empress of All Seasons was a bit less impressive; part of the problem may have been my mood, but I got frustrated with too many things to say I really loved it. I am glad I got to read it, though, and there were some interesting elements.
  • Update on reading goals: I'm at 21 books read out of a goal of 99, which puts me 12 books behind schedule. Part of the issue is that Cedarville canceled Blind Date With a Book this year, which is when I do a lot of reading, plus March was 99% madness. Hopefully, I'll catch up over the summer. I'm doing better on my other goals. After this month's capstone reading, I'm at four books outside the speculative fiction genre (out of a goal of twelve such books). And I'm at a total of six books published before I was born, one of which (Orthodoxy) was published all the way back in 1908! Plus, I've found out that one of the libraries I have an account at has a sizable e-collection of Chesterton, so I may give some of his other books a try.


  • This was a weird month in that I was really busy, but not a lot really happened.
  • Obviously, with the quarantine on, I've spent most of my time at home. As such, pretty much all the stuff that happened was either baking, class, or D&D-related.
  • The one thing that happened that didn't involve staying at home was driving back to Cedarville at the very start of the month so my sister and I could get our stuff from our dorms. It was not a fun trip, but it also could've been much worse. We also ended up getting a flat tire about an hour out from the hotel where we were staying, which was . . . interesting. I was minimally involved in the whole thing; I was in the other vehicle, and I did not get out to help my dad and sister change the tire because, quite frankly, it was cold and I didn't think I'd be much help and the gas station we stopped at was kind of sketch. Thankfully, we were able to get the tire fixed the next morning in time to go load up our stuff. In general, it was just a lot of driving (and then a lot of packing and unpacking in between the driving).
  • On the college classes front: this month was a lot of final and close-to-final projects and papers and such, all of which turned out really well! I got to pull off a lot of crossover between classes and aspects of my life: my capstone is about how story influences faith (and vice versa), my final project for graphic design involved a lot of writing and a fun bit of near-future sci-fi storytelling (which my professor apparently loved; it got me one of the best grades I've ever gotten in any of his classes), my final Report Writing project was, as I mentioned earlier, a white paper about the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, my honors capstone pulled a lot from my PWID professional project that I did earlier in the semester, and I managed to work some JavaScript into my Web Design final project (which was supposed to be just HTML and CSS).
  • Finals week was also a weird mix of chill and not; I only had one final exam (Graphic Design I, of all things), but I had a presentation and basically two papers and two projects, which took up a lot of time. I made it to the end, though, and now I've officially graduated Cedarville with a proper degree. (I'm supposed to get my actual diploma by mail in a few weeks.)
  • Obviously, we couldn't have an actual graduation ceremony for reasons of the pandemic. But Cedarville did put together an online video ceremony/recollection/speech thing, so that was a pretty good substitute.
  • In terms of baking: I would like to point out that I was on the sourdough bandwagon first, thanks. And I've actually been doing less bread baking than I normally would because all the stores are still out of bread flour, so I'm only making things that I think I can risk using all-purpose flour for.
  • Still, I've been doing a bit of baking. A short list of the food-based adventures:
    • Replica Bertucci's rolls at the start of the month (SO GOOD).
    • Soft sourdough rolls for Easter — also very good, and they worked very well for ham sandwiches.
    • Crusty sourdough rolls. I made the double batch; they were yummy, but they used a TON of flour, so next time I'm just making a single and making the rolls smaller.
    • Sourdough crumpets — actual crumpets this time, with biscuit cutters taking the place of crumpet rings. They were DELICIOUS, a bit like a cross between an English muffin and a pancake, but better.
    • And, just yesterday, flatbread pizza with apples and cheddar cheese and sourdough chocolate cake. Yes, you read that second one correctly. It didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped, mostly because we mixed by hand when we should have used a mixer, but it wasn't bad.
  • Finally, on the D&D front: the climax of my campaign's second season has been stretched from its intended two sessions into three due to my players not even considering what I thought was the obvious choice. (In all fairness, said choice involved asking more questions of a character whom everyone had agreed was kind of a prat, so it may not have been as obvious as I thought.) So, we've been kind of taking the long way round and accidentally doing things on hard mode. We're all enjoying it, though (except for the part where the poor paladin who got stuck in the middle of the group in a stairway battle and had to just hang out using her wand of magic missiles until people could move out of the way).
  • And in the other D&D campaign, we've dealt with the whole orc situation (with mixed success) and now it's my character's turn to have backstory-related plot stuff. So that's going to be interesting. I'm excited, but my character is not. (She started adventuring primarily to get certain family members off her back, and she enjoyed not having to deal with those family members on a daily basis, even if she did sometimes miss her younger siblings. And now that she's going to have to deal with those family members again, she's probably going to be falling back into old habits a bit. It's going to be a very interesting challenge for me to roleplay, and it's going to be pretty confusing for some of the other players, because however much my character is frustrated with her family members, they're still her family, and she will defend them to the death even as she argues with them.)
  • On the downside, the other major thing that happened this month is that the fast router we've been using for WiFi got shut off. Thankfully, it lasted for most of the semester, but now I'm trying to figure out how to do stuff when we're on more limited data. Normally it's not a problem; I just go to the library whenever I need to do something internet-heavy. But, obviously, all the libraries are closed now . . . But yeah.

May Plans

  • Obviously, the next big thing for me is finding a job, something that kind of went on hold when the pandemic hit. I have one possibility from before the pandemic, but for the most part, it's going to be a lot of searching. I have some new sites to search for remote work, so that's exciting.
  • The other big thing is working on my novel. I haven't been really pushing myself on the novelling front, mostly because I've always had five other more imperative things to think about. Now that I actually do have more free time, I plan to get busy, which means hopefully finishing it sometime in the near future. (Not sure exactly when. Much like Mechanical Heart, it's a story that I originally intended to be fairly short, but which is turning out to be a bit of a beast.) To that end, I'm setting a goal of 25,000 words on Blood in the Soil/Earth or a thousand words a day, which should be doable but will still force me to stretch my writing muscles a bit more. (I was originally thinking a full 30K, but I've missed several days of writing, and this will give me time to catch up.)
  • The D&D group I run is going to be meeting a little more sporadically for most of May, both so I can sort out my internet situation and so I can work on the next season and a half's session plans. To that end, my other writing goal is to write three episodes over the course of the month and to come up with and write summaries for another three. (For context, my method is to write summaries of D&D episodes as I come up with them so I don't forget what I was going to do, and then I use those to write the actual episodes.)  Generally, D&D episodes aren't hard to write, but they do take time, so this one may get adjusted depending on how other things go.
  • In addition to job searching, I hope to get in contact with the people I've worked internships for before and see if they need an extra writer/designer on deck. I don't want to overload myself with job searches and writing also in the mix, but I do want to try to get some income sooner rather than later.
  • (I also should take this time when I can't be on social media a lot to figure out some proper social media and marketing strategy for author things. I've been saying that for a while at this point; maybe it'll finally happen now.)
  • And, of course, I have the usual assortment of fun things — reading, baking, watching movies and shows, and actually playing D&D (including a potential new campaign?) — that I want to fit in somehow. Here's hoping that I can get my hands on some bread flour soon.
How are you holding up under the pandemic? Did you do Camp NaNoWriMo (and if so, how'd it go)? If you're a college student, what are your plans now that the school year is either over or almost over? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah Pennington


  1. Congrats on your nano win! Its great you were able to keep up the daily habit, I was a bit hit/miss myself. I did hit my goal for camp (revise 10k of my novel) and I'm still working on the revision/edit.

    1. Thanks! Hey, 10K is still a very nice amount of revisions! Good luck with the rest!


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