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!

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