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!

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