Friday, June 5, 2020

May 2020 Doings!

Well, it's been another one of those months where the first half and the second half feel like completely separate temporal divisions. It's weird. But I'm not sure there's ever going to be another month that doesn't feel like that, at this point. So let's get on with trying to remember what happened, shall we?


  • So. As you may recall, I had two goals at the start of the month: 25,000 words on Blood in the Soil/Earth and 3 episodes and 3 episode summaries in my D&D campaign. Technically, I didn't accomplish either of them.
  • As far as the D&D campaign goes: I did manage to write three episode summaries and three episodes. However, two of those episodes and summaries kind of overlap, so . . . it doesn't exactly count. Still, I have four sessions set up and ready to go, and I got to talk backstory stuff with several people, which is making me shift around my plans anyway. Soooo, I'm calling it good.
  • I did pretty well on Blood in the Soil/Earth for most of the month, averaging about a thousand words per day until the 23rd or so. I got through several scenes, including some that I've been looking forward to for a long time and some that set up some unexpected but enjoyable character dynamics. However, as the month went on, the novel started fighting me more and more, and even as long as it already was, it seemed very likely that I wasn't going to be done with it by the end of the month, or even in the next two months.
  • Having heard the advice multiple times that sometimes the best thing to do with a troublesome project is to work on something else (and knowing that it worked well for other types of projects), I decided to indulge in an extra side project. Initially, it helped; I was getting good writing done on both things. But then the new project (currently referred to as the Secret Project) started to take up more and more attention, and I decided to set Blood in the Soil/Earth aside for a time and focus on the Secret Project instead.
  • No, you do not get to know what the Secret Project is yet. Worry not; all will be revealed in a couple weeks. But if you really want a hint, I may have posted something about it on my author Facebook page a couple weeks ago when I first started it . . .
  • Anyway, my final count for the month of May was 63,665 words: 34,532 words towards my official goals (20,451 on Blood in the Soil/Earth; 13,022 on D&D) and another 29,133 on the Secret Project. Keep in mind, that number includes a solid 10K-ish words of plotting, character development, and worldbuilding. It's still a pretty solid amount of writing, especially when you consider that I wrote over half of it (roughly 42K) in 15 days.


  • If you think you're noticing a trend here, that's because there is one: the Great Redwall Reread (which I started back in January) continues in earnest! I can generally finish a Redwall book every one or two days, on average — they're addictive, and they're fast reads, even though they're mostly long enough to have some substance. So far, all my old favorites are holding up fairly well, and many of the ones that I liked less have risen in my estimation. (Notably: Martin, MossflowerLegend of Luke, Mattimeo, and The Long Patrol. There's a trend here too, if you care to look for it, though it's not as obvious as the overall reading-lots-of-Redwall trend.) Outcast is still my least favorite, though.
  • I could say more, but I'm thinking of doing a Friday 5s post with my thoughts on the series as a whole, coming back to it as a semi-adult (I may technically be an adult, but I don't feel very adult-y most of the time), and how it's influenced my writing once I finish rereading the whole series. That might actually be two posts, one for thoughts and one for influence, but we'll see what happens.
  • Outside of Redwall: I had another cozy reread, All Things Bright and Beautiful, which is the second James Herriot book. We don't own the other two, so we'll see how long it takes me to reread those. I also read two Kendra E. Ardnek short stories: The Prior Quest (a Bookania retelling of Puss in Boots, not my favorite but also not my least favorite), and Misfortune (a Twist of Adventure Rapunzel retelling; I posted my full thoughts a few weeks ago).
  • Finally, we have the two disappointments of the month. Masters and Beginners was one I really wanted to love because it had such a great concept: slice-of-life small-town urban fantasy about caretakers of a magical archive of stuff, featuring family focus, in-world textual "artifacts," and cat fairies. It could've been an instant hit. Unfortunately, the writing style felt unpolished, there was a lot of infodumping (including some huge name dumps, which I do not care for), and the formatting was not great. I know that last one shouldn't detract from the quality of the story, but — look. I spent four years studying design; I can't just turn that off. Anyway. Lots of potential; poor execution. The Narnia Cookbook, on the other hand, was fairly well-executed, but it just wasn't what I wanted it to be. Which is to say: there were no recipes in it that I actually felt inclined to try to make. It did have some nice behind-the-scenes and historical tidbits about different food, though, so that was kind of cool.
  • Finally, here's a quick update on reading goals.
    • My total reading is at 42 books out of 99, which puts me roughly on track or a little ahead. Thank goodness for having enough time to read and short enough books that I can pack a lot of them in.
    • I read two non-speculative-fiction books this month, which puts me at six such books out of a goal of twelve. That means I'm a little ahead of the game on this goal, though we'll see how long that lasts.
    • As for books published before I was born, technically I've reached my goal through my Redwall reread. However, that feels a bit like cheating. So, we're going to count all of the pre-Sarah's-birth Redwall as one book. That and All Things Bright and Beautiful puts me at eight books out of twelve, which means I'm still ahead of the game. (And if I read Chesterton, reread The Lord of the Rings, or get back to Wheel of Time like I hope to do, I'll definitely hit my goal fairly well ahead of schedule!)



  • So, this month has actually been a reasonably good one for watching things, at least as months when I'm at home with limited internet go. And by "a reasonably good one", I mean that I watched multiple actual movie-length things, which pretty much never happens.
  • One of those was The Great Race, a comedy-action-romance movie that my roommate loves and had recommended to me. My parents happened — mostly by coincidence — to have it out from the library, so of course I wanted to see it. It was fun, partially because it's the kind of movie that knows it's utterly ridiculous and therefore isn't going to take itself too seriously. And pretty much all the main actors were a bit overdramatic, but since everyone was doing it, it worked. So, yeah, that was good.
  • The next was not a movie but rather a musical — specifically, Cats, via The Shows Must Go On, a YouTube channel that's posting legit, legal recordings of Broadway musicals every weekend. I'd been meaning to download (via YouTube Premium, don't judge me) and watch one of the shows for a while, and when I saw Cats was being posted, I figured that would be a good choice. I could find out what it was and what it was about without dealing with the weirdness of the movie . . . and then I actually watched it (with my family, no less) and discovered that however weird the movie is, it can't be that much weirder than the actual show. I mean, it's probably less weird if you see it in theaters and don't have a camera zooming in on awkward moments, but still . . . what the pumpernickel did I watch? And why the pumpernickel did anyone think a movie based on this show wouldn't be as weird as anything?
  • (I would like to add that it did not help that the costumes in the musical were, for the most part, kind of, ah, skintight. And with the stage makeup and so forth, in some cases, it didn't matter that the actors were technically completely clothed; I still felt like they were mostly naked. It was not a comfortable experience.)
  • The final new-to-me movie that I watched was Charade, which someone described to me as "The best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made," or something to that effect. It was definitely something — a treasure hunt/mystery combo, very twisty, lots of character drama and dynamics and questioning who's telling the truth and who's lying and who's killing people and so on. There was a surprising amount of comedic stuff, though, which kept it from getting too angsty. (Actually, no one really angsted about anything. It was nice.) I did guess where the money was fairly early on, but the rest of the movie made me second-guess myself multiple times, so it gets props for that.
  • (I also rewatched Singing in the Rain because I needed something set in the 20s for reasons. It was just as good the second time around as the first time, though I'm still confused about the point of the whole "Gotta Dance" sequence. It's weird.)
  • In addition, I finally worked my way through the first episode of Critical Role. Well, actually, I've been doing that for a couple months now. But I made significant progress this month! (I really want to try to get into it because I keep seeing animatics on YouTube and reading stuff about it on other media and so on. It's just . . . the episodes are three hours long. And sometimes I have trouble focusing in D&D sessions where I'm actually playing; focusing when it's other people playing is even harder. So I basically have to watch them in parts, but it's still a lot of time. Though having watched the animatics, I feel a little more attached to everyone and therefore feel like I have more of a stake in what's going on. So, yeah.)


  • To be honest, I have very little grasp on what happened this month. Most of it was writing, reading, D&D, and job searching, and I've already talked about two of those.
  • Probably the most exciting thing that happened was that some of our neighbors invited my dad and I over to take pictures of their carnivorous plants because the pitcher plants were blooming. So that was pretty cool. Everything was much smaller than I thought it would be — I imagined that Venus flytraps were the size of my palm, for example, but they're really not much bigger than my thumb. I went over twice and got some good shots the first time. The second time didn't go quite as well, sadly. (I avoided getting stung both times, though — these neighbors also keep bees, so I was a bit worried about being close to the hives.)
  • On the job search front, I've had a little bit of luck. Though I've gotten several rejections, I did get a few interviews, and one of those companies hasn't rejected me yet. So, yay for that!
  • The D&D campaign I run only met once in the month of May — well, technically twice, but the second time was overflow from the one real session. We finally finished the finale of the season, which was great. The fight did go super long because I overestimated my capability to run a large battle, but it worked out. And there were character revelations, which were . . .  less dramatic than I expected? But still pretty dramatic. I think everyone's pretty happy with how things ended, and they seem to be excited to start up again in the near future.
  • I did end up joining a new campaign, which was good because my old campaign only managed to meet two weeks out of the whole month. I'm playing a full spellcaster (bard/wizard multiclass) for the first time, and it's . . . interesting? I am not used to having so few hit points, y'all. My character went unconscious in the first real fight of the campaign; that hasn't happened to me in months. And apparently I've been confused about how many spells you can use per turn the whole time I've been DMing. So, that's a thing. It's fun, though.
  • On a related note, I have discovered that I really love multiclassing characters, to the point where if you look at my PCs and my major NPCs, there's, like, two who aren't multiclassed to some degree. And neither of those two are PCs. (My paladin recently multiclassed into Fighter so she could get the Dual Wielder fighting style and I could stop having to worry about what bonus did or did not get added to her offhand attack. It's something I've been thinking of doing for a while, but it didn't seem appropriate in terms of character development until now, when I decided that all the minor crises of faith she's had over the campaign have probably added up to a full level of not-paladin.) Plus, most of my favorite characters that I want to play in future are also multiclassed. So, yeah.
  • I did get to do some baking over the course of the month. You heard in my last Doings! about my Sourdough chocolate cake. The following weekend, I made oatmeal cookies (with cranberries, pecans, and chocolate chips in them — they were supposed to be a small batch, but they ended up making nearly three dozen, so . . . not sure what's up with that) and strawberry gallettes (basically mini freeform pies). Both turned out quite delicious. I also made another two loaves of artisan bread, which, on the upside, didn't fuse this time! Unfortunately, they still didn't turn out very pretty. But it is what it is.
  • I've also been playing Undertale on and off. I'm still on my first playthrough, and I'm doing Total Pacifist mode, so it's taking a while. (I also can't play every day, only a couple times a week at best.) So far, it seems like a great game, though I did have a lot of trouble navigating the menu controls. I kind of wish they have you some kind of instructions on that. But that could just be the fact that I'm not super experienced with video games in general. I'm also realizing that I was spoiled by my other gaming experiences that let you save whenever the heck you want and not just when you reach a save point. The fact that I had to keep redoing certain puzzles that were between a save point and a spot where I kept dying was part of the reason I didn't get further along faster.
  • Finally, a bit of exciting news: we are finally going to get actually good internet at our house! Unfortunately, it's still going to take a while. But it's definitely coming!

June Plans

  • #1 plan: finish the draft of the Secret Project and send it off to betas ASAP. This was actually supposed to have happened already, but there were delays. Should happen in the next few days, though.
  • I'm also participating in the 100-4-100 challenge, despite the fact that I barely keep up with Go Teen Writers or the GTW community anymore. I'm using Blood in the Soil/Earth for that in hopes that it'll keep me from completely neglecting it while working on the Secret Project and other stuff.
  • My last writing project is, of course, continuing to work on D&D and figure out how to potentially reshuffle things to include some of the backstory that my players are giving me for their characters. So I'm excited about that! Can't say too much, though, because some of the people in the campaign read this blog.
  • Outside of writing, I'm still working on the getting-a-job thing, though right now that mostly looks like waiting to hear back from a few places.
  • I also have a design project in the pipeline that I'm really excited about. I'll probably share something on the blog and social media about it later this month too. Can't say a whole lot, but it's the first time I've done a project of this type professionally. It's going to be great . . . as long as what I think I can do works out like it's supposed to, anyway.
  • Beyond that, it's just more of the usual: baking, reading, waiting for the actually good internet to happen. Watching stuff. Hopefully finishing the first Undertale playthrough. Praying that the world finds a better new normal than this in the near future.

How was your May? Any exciting June plans? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


  1. Same with the 100-4-100 and not being around GTW as much as in the past! (Actually, I thought they used to get 30+ comments on each post, but that community doesn't seem to be active as much anymore?)

    I hope your job hunting and secret project go well!

    1. I think they're still fairly active? I'm not sure. The FB group is busy enough, that's certain.

      Thank you very much!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.