Friday, July 2, 2021

June 2021 Doings!

 Hey'a, friends! June and my blogging hiatus are both at an end, so here I am with the month's Doings! I'll have some other update-y posts for you later in the month (specifically, my mid-year reading roundups next week and a general writing update towards the end of July), but those are later. Let's get on with the Doings!


  • The second draft of Gilded in Ice, the sequel to The Midnight Show, is finished! Huzzah! This took much longer than anticipated, but that's probably more due to poor estimating on my part than it is due to the book itself. I mean, it's kind of due to the book. But it's mostly on me.
  • Almost as exciting: Gilded in Ice also has a blurb, tagline, and cover! The cover will be revealed at a later date (though you get a sneak peak above), but the blurb and tagline are out there on the interwebs in their finished form, if you care to seek for them.
  • I didn't do very much D&D writing this month, but my group did get to play IN PERSON for the first time in almost a year and a half! It was so nice to actually play without screens to separate us. Everyone was much more engaged, even though the session was mostly combat (which usually is when people are most likely to get distracted). I mean, the fact that we got to have a physical map (which is a lot easier to see and interact with) and candies for the baddies probably helps a lot with that. But it's also just a lot easier and more fun to talk and interact when you're face-to-face.



  • Apparently this has been a really long month, because I genuinely thought some of my June reads were from back in May.
  • Anyway. This was another month in which my reading was kind of all over the place. The best book of the month was probably The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, which was recommended to me by a friend with excellent taste in books. It's urban fantasy about a man who can bring characters and things and places out of books, and there's a lot of celebration of both brotherhood and classic literature, and it's just a very good story. A bit slow in the middle, but still very good.
  • I continued reading the Green Ember books; I got through book 2, two of the novellas, and most of book 3 in June, and at the moment I'm either finishing or just finished with book 3 (not pictured). I'm very much enjoying the series, and I think it's especially good for this present moment. One of the themes of the story seems to be hope in the midst of heartache, and it's just a good reminder that nothing evil endures.
  • (On a related note, I kind of want to make art of a particular refrain from this series — "It will not be so in the Mended Wood" — and of the "it will shine out the brighter" LOTR quote and of a few other similar quotes. I am bad at text-based art, so we'll see if it happens.)
  • On the other side of the spectrum, Rule of Wolves and Dirk Gently were both better than I expected. I read Rule of Wolves because I heard Kaz and the Crows were in it, and . . . they were, but honestly, their part wasn't even in my top five for favorite parts of the book. The story as a whole has moved away from angst and back towards clever people being clever and amazing, which I appreciate. And then Dirk Gently I picked up on a whim, despite the fact that the only other thing I've read by Douglas Adams, I dislike. But this one was enjoyable! And interesting! And funny without being depressing! So I count that as a win.
  • Rounding out the month are the Critical Role Mighty Nein art book — stealth-read in ebook form at work on a slow afternoon — and a reread of The Whispering Skull, the second Lockwood and Co book. Both were quite enjoyable. The art book had an excellent selection of pieces and some nice "background info" on the world and characters featured. And I liked The Whispering Skull better than I remembered.


  • Ticking another movie off my list of things-I-should've-watched-years-ago-and-didn't, my family watched National Treasure towards the start of the month. Don't judge me, but I think I liked it better than Indiana Jones. I love a good heist or a good treasure hunt much more than a standard action-adventure, and National Treasure has both. So, yeah. Definitely my cup of tea. Plus it was just a generally fun movie.
  • My family also continued rewatching the Lord of the Ring Extended Editions with The Two Towers. When I reread the book a month or so ago, I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed it than I remembered . . . so it's kind of sad that the movie had the opposite effect. The changes that I'm most upset about (how Peter Jackson absolutely ruined Faramir's character and the overemphasis and over-angsting of Aragorn and Arwen's romance) are most prominent in this movie, plus . . . look, I know that my favorite quotes in both the book and movie version of The Lord of the Rings come from Frodo and Sam's part of this book, but other than that, I really do not enjoy Frodo and Sam's journey to Mordor, and it's worse on the screen. On the page, I can read a little faster; on the screen, I'm limited by the pace the director set. So, yeah. If I have to pick one LOTR movie to watch, it would be Fellowship every time.
  • And, of course, watching Critical Role continues. I tried the first episode of Exandria Unlimited and got through to the break, but to be honest, I was not enough of a fan to keep going, and I'm definitely not into it enough to watch it live. (Or, live-ish.) It's nothing against the DM or the players; I can tell they were having a great time, and the DM seems pretty fun. But the story they were telling didn't grab me, and without any kind of prior attachment to the characters, I wasn't super inclined to keep going. (I also learned that I do not like watching stuff on Twitch because the chat is super distracting. So that's another point not in its favor. I'll deal with it when the real Campaign 3 rolls around, but not for this.) Instead, I'm going to keep going with Campaign 2. I'm currently on Episode 70, and . . . yeah. It's been heavy, and it's a dark part of the story, but I look forward to what's to come.


 Despite all my adventures this month, I don't have a single representative picture that doesn't include people who might not want their faces on the internet. Enjoy this picture of my latest sourdough loaf instead.
  • Well, this was a busy month, let me tell you!
  • The first half of the month was dominated by writing like mad, trying to get my book done . . . and also by my mom fracturing her thumb while working outside Memorial Day weekend. Which is, y'know, non-ideal. And painful for her. And stressful for everyone. And which also meant that my sister and I had to take responsibility for more of the cooking and some of the other around-the-house tasks for a while. (My sister ended up with more of that work than I did, by virtue of the fact that she's home most of the day and I'm not. And I very much appreciate her doing it.) And by the time we got past that, we had come to the point of . . .
  • The Ohio adventure! One of my hall friends from college was getting married, which basically meant a mini-reunion of most of the friend group . . . and an eight-hour drive each way. (The drive went fine. My sister copiloted/helped drive half of each side of the trip, and aside from a massive rainstorm while we were in the mountains on the last leg of the trip, everything went smoothly.) And then I had a VERY busy weekend in Ohio making sure I got to do all the things with all the people.
  • Thursday evening through Friday afternoon were reasonably chill — I hung out with my roommate (whose house I was staying at), we played Sentinels of the Multiverse, and I wrote while she was at work. Then, Friday evening, the day before the wedding, I drove down to visit a couple of friends who wouldn't be at the weekend's main event. It was so nice to get to enjoy a meal with them again (we were lunch buddies in college, among other connections), and then they introduced me to the board game Scythe, which I honestly enjoyed much more than I expected. I'd heard it was long and a bit complex, and long it was (I stayed much later than I intended, though the thunderstorm that rolled in right as we sat down to dinner also contributed), but it wasn't any more complex than Sentinels. But yeah. There was a lot of good conversation and good fun, and I've missed them a lot.
  • Then we get to Saturday! Which was . . . a lot. There was the wedding, obviously, which was lovely. One thing that stood out to me was that it was a lot more sociable than many of the weddings I've attended in the last couple years. Specifically, the bride and groom and the wedding party were able to spend much more time with the guests than at many other weddings, and it was nice to get to spend time with the people I came to see and celebrate.
  • After the wedding, the hall group returned to my roommate's home with the intention of continuing celebrations (the "afterparty," if you will), but what actually happened was that everyone crashed until someone said they were hungry and we should eat dinner. But it was nice to have the whole group together again. Conversations were had, photos were taken, and many hugs were given. Many, many hugs.
  • And after that was the after-after-party, aka D&D. Which was, as already mentioned, magnificently fun even though we were all exhausted. And even though some of the players had really bad luck with saving throws. And the encounter turned out harder than I expected. It's ok.
  • That brings us to the back half of the month, which was taken up by trying to recover my energy after the trip (still haven't fully succeeded, to be honest) and by some workplace stress in the form of one of the staff members leaving unexpectedly. I was honestly one of the people least affected by the departure, but it was still a bit stressful for everyone.
  • Oh, and in the midst of all this, my sister and I finished Portal and moved on to Portal 2! (Again, she's playing for the first time, while I'm playing for the third time.) It's still fun, though I do get occasionally frustrated by the fact that things I think should be obvious even on your first playthrough aren't obvious to her. In all fairness, I spent much more time than she did playing computer and video games and watching others play those types of games, so I'm more familiar with the conventions than she is. We're both generally enjoying it, though.
  • I also gave Journey (that one video game with the sand and the robed people and all that) a try earlier this week. I'm not entirely sold on it, and I think I missed something in the third level, and possibly several of the other levels, because right now I'm stuck. We'll see if I go back to it or if I just move on to other games.

July Plans

  • So, I'm just going to say one thing up front: I am not doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I tried back in April and kind of flopped, and I just finished a writing project and need to take a break before I pick up something else big. I don't know how long of a break it needs to be either, just that it needs to be.
  • What will I be working on? I'll be doing some D&D writing (which is still writing, but is different enough that it should give my brain a break.) I'll be working on formatting for Gilded (as much as I can without the finished manuscript). I'll be giving myself space to play with other stories and ideas and projects as they come to me. And I'll also be blogging, obviously. My June hiatus was nice, but I don't want to go off-schedule too long.
  • That said, the other reason I'm taking July off from planned writing is that it's going to be another busy month in terms of events and social stuff. There's Independence Day, obviously (though that'll be small, since the people we normally watch fireworks with are out of town), and we're having guests twice during the month. (My college roommate is coming to visit, and I am VERY excited.) Plus, I'm thinking of starting a board-games-and-Bible-study group through my church, so I'll need some time to figure out what that looks like and how that works.
  • And, of course, I plan to spend a lot of time during the month enjoying good stories in many forms: books (I need to finish my LOTR reread and my Green Ember series read, and I'm thinking of rereading the Knight and Rogue books, or maybe the City Watch thread of Discworld books), movies and shows (I still need to introduce my sister to Firefly, and video games (the Portal 2 playthrough will continue, plus I want to hit some of the other games I've bought on Steam and not gotten around to). All in all, I have a lot to look forward to.

How was your June? Any exciting plans for July? [question] Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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