Friday, March 5, 2021

February 2021 Doings!

 Guys. It's been a year. A year ago today, I was on my last spring break, planning a cheese night for my dorm and trying to find a formal dress for the Junior-Senior Formal and stressing about my capstone paper and final graphic design project. A year ago today, I was less than a week from the world turning upside down around me, and I had no idea. It's so weird. Anyway. I will say that this past February was a lot less stressful than February 2020 — even with COVID in the picture, there's a lot less uncertainty floating around. (Also, the nice thing about a nine-to-five job is that it is, in fact, nine to five, as opposed to college classes, which are whenever you get up to whenever you can't think anymore today.)


  • The first draft of the Midnight Show sequel is finished! It topped out at about 77K words and 35 chapters, which is almost twice as long as The Midnight Show and about 17K longer than I want it to be. Still, it's a satisfactory first draft. It's not quite as clean as TMS's first version was (or Blood in the Snow's), but it's in better shape than some.
  • I gave myself a couple days of rest from writing and then I started all over with the first round of rewrites.
  • I'm currently sitting at 8 chapters, about one fifth of the book, rewritten or added. I'm messing with the timeline a little, so I've had to add some bits and heavily rework some scenes. And there was one chapter that I have to rewrite a second time so I could properly write the chapters that had to build on it. Other than that, though, it's going well.
  • On a side note, I was looking back at my Doings! post for last February, and I found this reference:

I also toyed with another writing project, but ended up dropping it because it conflicted with a different novel (or novella) that I plan to write in the future.

  • I had totally forgotten about this — it was an experimental project intended for the Tattered Slippers Arista Challenge that I only worked on for a few days before scrapping. Had it worked out, y'all would've gotten a Mechanical Heart sequel instead of The Midnight Show. The issue was that it used a very similar "twist" as The Midnight Show does to explain the dancing (which was, in this version, not dancing but rather inventing), and the idea that would become TMS was already developed enough that I didn't want to waste it.
  • The experimental part of the project, for the record, refers to the writing process I was going to try out: essentially, outlining the story and then iterating that outline and making it more and more detailed until I had a proper prose narrative. I hoped it would be a faster way of getting a functional first draft out. It might've worked too, save for the teensy little problem that I do not enjoy outlines. Especially not ultra-detailed ones.
  • The story would've been really fun had I written it, though. It was going to involve Breen and Luis attending a "Creatives Consortium" — basically a convention intended to bring the inventors and alchemists and scientists together with artists and creatives, only for Strange Goings On to occur in the night. And I CLEARLY has fun with the outline, which I just reread while writing this post. A few highlights for those curious:
  • So, armed with COFFEE and CRAFTS and lots of stuff to tinker and mess with, they STAY UP.


  • Around midnight, the roommate is like “Hey, I hear something. Music? It’s weird.”
  • Breen is like “Cool cool. I am deaf, but I will take your word for it.”
  • Roommate: “This music is making me feel super weird. My head hurts. Something Is Up.”
  • Breen: “Hey, you ok? You're randomly standing up and wandering off and you’re moving kind of weirdly.”
  • Roommate: *does not respond*
  • Breen: Ok rude.


  • Breen is like “Ok, was I hallucinating on coffee or did that actually happen? SUPER WEIRD.”


  • Luis, who is friends with Josiah: Let’s go talk to the person who owns this place.
  • Breen, who spent 10-ish years getting screwed over by a noble: Let’s not.
  • Roommate, who is oblivious to both things: Nah, Goggles is right. Let’s talk to the person in charge.
  • Alas, this novel will never be written. But I wrote The Midnight Show instead, and quite frankly, I think that's for the best. The Mechanical Heart sequel would've been fun. But The Midnight Show is possibly one of my favorite things I've written in my life, so . . . worth it. Mechanical Heart will get a different sequel when the time is right.
  • D&D-wise, I am still behind on writing stuff, but we're also running short sessions, so it's ok. And I feel like I'm getting better at improv, so that's reassuring. I will say, though, that a lot of this month has been an unending series of "Gah, that is not this character's accent; I could do it ten minutes ago; what happened?" Voice actor, I am not. But at least the current group of NPCs is easier than some others I've invented.


  • February (and the start of the year in general) tends to be a time for rereads, and this February was no exception. This February was also a really good reading month . . . mostly because it was dominated by two amazing authors.
  • So, I did finish Rhythm of War before it was due at the library, but only barely. Had we not had a snow day on the Monday before I was supposed to return it, I would've been out of luck. Instead, I devoured pretty much the last third of the book in a single day. It was intense. And now I have feels. Most of them are about how awesome Adolin and Navani are and how awful Moash is (storm you, Moash), but also . . . so many reveals. So much epicness. I spent a lot of time internally screaming. And occasionally externally not-quite-screaming. It was great.
  • Anyway. After finishing Rhythm, I needed something equally awesome but a little bit lighter as a chaser, plus Return of the Thief was due at the library soon . . . so I proceeded to devour the entire Queen's Thief series in about ten days. The first five books were just as good on the reread as they were the first times round — in fact, I'd argue most of them were better. And Return of the Thief was amazing. Again, I have many feelings. It still hasn't topped The King of Attolia is still my #1 favorite in the series, but Return is a very close second. And there's so much to love about the book, but I think my favorite thing was seeing Gen and Irene . . . I suppose you could say, seeing them at their most united. And there's one scene between them that's so small, but it hit so hard and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
  • After that, I was going to be responsible and continue working through my library stacks . . . but I reread Mistborn instead. No regrets. It was really weird to reread the book and think "Wow, you can really tell that this is some of Sanderson's early work" while simultaneously still being really impressed by the man's storytelling and writing skill, but that certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of it. (And now I'm working on rereading The Well of Ascension, also instead of reading from my library stacks. Again, I regret nothing.)
  • And, as if there wasn't enough awesome in this month already, I finally read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It was dark enough that I'm kinda glad I didn't read it when I first heard of it, but it was also really good. It kind of has this dream-like, or perhaps nightmare-like, balance of strange and un-strange and fairytale and humanity. If I lived in a city, it would have me glancing over my shoulder, just in case. But I don't, so . . . yeah. I'll definitely be coming back to this one sometime.


  • So, I'm currently on Episode 51 in Critical Role, which means we're done with Fjord and ocean arcs and all that for the time being — but which, more importantly, means I hit the backstory reveal for a certain character. And I knew this character's backstory and family already going into the show. But seeing how it actually played out hit hard and oh my pumpernickel. I am in awe. You know someone's a good storyteller when a reveal you already know about is that effective.
  • Outside Critical Role, I watched one of the many Zorro movies — not the original, but the 1975 version that's just called Zorro. So that was some good swashbuckling fun. (I also rewatched parts of The Princess Bride, which my parents decided to watch on a night when I had other things I had to do. I managed to squeeze in time for the important bits, at least.)
  • In addition, we watched Roman Holiday, which was . . . I mean, it was fine? I understand why it's a classic and why it's so popular. I think the story and characters were well-crafted, and I appreciate the choices made in the end (even if I feel bad for Irving . . . Joe brought this mess on himself, but Irving was literally dragged into it). It's not my favorite movie I've ever seen, and I wouldn't say I loved it. But it was good.


  • This was a pretty quiet month, on the whole. Most of it was occupied with work, writing, and D&D, which should come as a surprise to no one.
  • The "extremely mysterious" technical issues were resolved by the next time I went in to work, which was a day later than expected, as it was the first of several snow days and holidays we had this month. I think that also might've been the only really snowy snow day — the rest tended to be more ice than snow. Since then, things have been progressing peacefully, and I've had some spare time to start making my office my own. (At this point, that mostly means cleaning and organizing and bringing in a kettle so I can make tea without using a coffee maker. But eventually, I'll have some decorations and such.)
  • On one of the various snow/ice days, I decided to finally try making biscotti, which turned out well! We usually make cranberry almond biscotti at Christmas, which lasts forever. But I wanted something different, something more exciting. I was going to make chocolate raspberry biscotti . . . but my dad said he'd let me off helping to shovel the driveway if I made the biscotti that day, so I went with my second choice, cinnamon-butterscotch, instead. In hindsight, I probably should've stuck with the chocolate raspberry — the cinnamon-butterscotch had so many mix-ins (even using the amount specified in the recipe) that it was hard to get the dough to actually stick together and harder still to cut it after the first baking without the slices breaking and crumbling. Essentially, I did my first biscotti run on hard mode. But it still tasted good. And I hope to try the chocolate raspberry (or possibly a savory biscotti, probably cornmeal parmesan) later, sometime before the weather warms up too much.
  • On the D&D front — the campaign I play in, not the campaign I run — we haven't been able to meet the last two weeks, and it's driving me a little crazy because of where we ended our last session: with a revelation that the homeland of two of our party members (including my paladin) just declared war on another country (which another party member is technically allied with? in that he's a noble and his country is allies with this other country). So that's going to be interesting. Especially since my character's father contacted her shortly before we learned about this to say he needed my character home immediately . . . We thought it had to do with some, ah, legal trouble we'd gotten in not long before. (Aka, someone framed us for murder — which, I mean, we did technically kill the person they said we killed, but only after he lured us into an ambush, set us on fire, and revealed that he was allied with a literal demon who's partially responsible for the world-covering darkness we've been trying to get rid of, so I don't think we're the ones in the wrong here. The problem was that we had a time-sensitive mission to finish, so we couldn't stick around to clear our names at the time.) But then he said what was happening was good news, and, well, let's just say that what happens next might be the thing that sends my tired, frustrated, didn't-ask-for-any-of-this paladin over the tipping point. And I am both excited and terrified to see how this will play out.

March Plans

  • Non-work priority #1: get the Midnight Show sequel rewritten and sent off to betas. Ideally, I also should name it before sending it to betas. I have two ideas, so that's something; I'm just trying to decide which fits better. My one comfort: the release this year will be later than previous years' releases have been, so I'll have a little more time to work with. Not a lot. But a little.
  • I also am really hoping that we can wrap up the current arc in the D&D campaign I'm running this month, or at least get close to wrapping it up. Does that necessitate my writing the rest of it? Yes. Yes, it does. But it'll happen. I just need to sit down and do the thing.
  • And, as the NaNoWriMo website has been helpfully reminding me, Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner at this point, so I need to start thinking about what I'm doing there. "Nothing" or "TMS sequel edits" are the obvious choices, but if the timing works out, it could also be a good idea to work on other projects. Like whatever I'm doing for next year's Arista Challenge. Or one of the many projects I want to write or rewrite that I don't have a specific publication plan for. We'll see where things stand.
  • Other than writing, I don't have a lot of plans. Hopefully I'll do something for Pi Day — it's been a while since I made a pie. (But my mom might want to make something, so . . . we'll see.) And I'm torn between wanting warm weather to come as soon as possible and wanting it to stay cold long enough for one last batch of biscotti.
  • Do I have a life outside of work, writing, D&D, and food? Sources suggest no.
  • (I'm also at a point where I'm a bit bored of my current knitting/crochet projects, but I also don't want to abandon them because if I do, who knows when or if I'll finish them. So that's a problem.)

How was your February? Any exciting plans for March? If you've read Rhythm of WarReturn of the Thief, or Neverwhere, what were your favorite bits or the parts that stuck with you the most? Have you ever tried to write a story via steadily more detailed outlines or another weird method? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


  1. I have been half-way thru Return of the Thief for months, I really need to finally get off my butt and get around to finishing it :/ Just read the part where Gen charges into battle and falls off the horse. So far my favorite bit has been the part where they screw with the Medes during the parlay by feeding the elephants, and also Heiro's little cameo because I liked her. King of Attolia is the best book of the series I think, although that's pretty impressive considering how great the series as a whole is. I've never made biscotti, it seems difficult, but chocolate raspberry and parmesan cornmeal both sound good. Good luck with that!

    1. FINISH IT. The ending is SO GOOD. But yes, the bit with the elephants was awesome.

      The only really difficult thing about biscotti is that it can end up being a really stiff/thick dough that's kind of hard to mix well. But the chocolate raspberry one was actually pretty easy.


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