Friday, December 31, 2021

December 2021 Doings!

And here we are, at the final Doings! of 2021. It's been a year — not as strange and terrifying and crazy as 2020, but still very different. But we aren't here to talk about 2021 as a whole; we're here to talk about the last twelfth of that year. So, let's get on with it.


  • So, Bastian Dennel, PI #3 is not finished. But I did make progress, which I count as a win. I currently have about 30K words and 17 chapters, and the end is more or less in sight at this point.
  • Thus far, the theme of this book seems to be "how much can I have other characters exasperate and/or threaten Bastian before he loses it." He has come close. But he's holding on. It's very fun to write.
  • Outside of my novel, I ended up doing more D&D writing, which was super fun. One of my players ended up not being able to make it to really any of our December sessions, and what I had planned wouldn't work without her, but none of the rest of us wanted to go a month with no sessions . . . so, at the almost-last minute, I put together an extra two sessions' worth of material that didn't require the fourth player. My group is hopping from realm to realm, and so far they've encountered a Spring Court fey noble, fought a Jabberwock in my take on Wonderland, and proved themselves to the Wild Hunt. They have two more stops before the finale, and I'm looking forward to both of them.
  • We also had to switch from meeting via Zoom to meeting via Discord, which is fine except that it makes running combat difficult. We're experimenting with digital maps, and I'm trying to find a service that I like for creating them (because if I do everything in Illustrator, I will take far too long about it). If anyone has any recommendations that aren't Roll20 (which I've tried and can't figure out), please let me know.
  • And, of course, I'm currently working on my New Year's Eve short story, which should be posted tonight. Took me a bit to figure out what to do, but I like the way it's shaping up on the whole.


  • Oddly enough, I didn't really do a ton of reading this month. And what I did read, for the most part, I took my time with. That's probably because I didn't have time to read a lot most evening, I was so busy with . . . well, everything else.
  • So, what did I read?
  • The month was evenly split between new reads and rereads. On the new read side, we had Heart of Shadow and One Corpse Too Many. Heart of Shadow is a fantasy adventure with a hefty dose of romance, and . . . honestly? It was recommended to me as a Vespertine readalike, which meant I was simultaneously excited and very skeptical, but it was so good. And then One Corpse Too Many is book 2 of the Brother Cadfael mysteries. I think I liked the first book better, but this one was still very enjoyable.
  • Then on the reread side were the first two Legends of Karac Tor, The Book of Names and Corus the Champion. I've been meaning to reread this series for a while, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. There were some elements that I noticed this time around that were kind of  . . . well, they might've been stylistic choices I disagree with, or they might've been instances that could've used another round with the editor's pen. But the stories and the characters still hold true and magnificent.


  • Unsurprisingly, this section is mostly Christmas movies. Mostly in the second half of the month, my family and I watched A Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lemon Drop Kid, and White Christmas. That's slightly fewer than I watched last year, but it hits my four favorites plus one more, so I'm hardly complaining.
  • Otherwise, I watched a little more Critical Role, though not a lot. I'm still way behind on Campaign 3 of Critical Role — I'm nearly done with episode 4 — but I'm still enjoying what I've seen. I also watched their Christmas one-shot from a few years ago, and . . . ok, I spent a lot of it thinking about whether or not I could do something similar for my group next year. But I have learned that I do very much enjoy Liam's DMing style, and it looked like the cast was just having a ton of fun with the session in general.
  • And, of course, there was the requisite assortment of YouTube watched while making Christmas presents for people. This year's highlights: Morgan Donner's shenanigan pants and a fair amount of the How to Drink archive, which I started on because they were recreating drinks from Critical Role and other fantasy stories, watched more of because it was useful story research, and then kept going with because it was just enjoyable.


  • First off: the non-writing project I spent the most time on: a crochet garden for my sister! Technically I've been working on this (plus another five plants not pictured, which went to my roommate, my mom, my grandfather, and me) since November, but I kicked it into high gear in December. Thankfully, the individual plants work up pretty quickly — I can do the soil in about two hours, then add another one-and-a-half to two hours for making the actual plant and sewing it in place — but I needed to make a lot of them. And, of course, once my sister got home, it was harder to get anything done on them without her seeing. I ended up working right up to the literal last minute, finishing the last plant (for my mom) before breakfast on Christmas. But I'm very pleased with how they all turned out, and they were well-received by everyone who got them.
  • And now, backing up: December was, as you'd expect, a pretty busy month. My sister arrived home from college somewhere around the 9th or the 10th, which has been nice — I really miss her when she's at college.
  • I did a fair bit of baking, as you'd expect: shortbread at the start of the month (not technically Christmas cookies, but close enough), then rolls and peppermint brownies for my work Christmas party, and finally molasses cookies and mint checkerboard cookies as my contribution to the family Christmas treats, plus fresh bread to go with Christmas dinner. (Even so, it's only a drop in the bucket compared to everything my mom made: pumpkin cookies at the start of the month, another batch of shortbread, two batches of basically-buckeyes, an immense amount of mint truffles, chocolate-peanut butter and chocolate-caramel crackers, Russian teacakes, macaroon bars, cranberry-almond biscotti, ladylocks, and a little bit of assorted bark with the leftover chocolate. Yes, Christmas at our house is delicious.)
  • As I just mentioned, I had my first-ever work Christmas party, which was pretty enjoyable. Thankfully, it was a luncheon and not something after-hours, and it involved a great deal of delicious food and desserts. (Did I eat too much? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Again, absolutely.) All in all, it was a nice time.
  • Our Bible study's Christmas party was later that same week, and that was also a lot of fun. It's the first time I haven't needed to play a role in the impromptu Christmas pagaent, which was nice — we actually had enough kids to fill all the roles without needing to double up or draw from the less-excited college and post-college kids. (For the record, I'm not complaining about having to participate in past years . . . but it definitely did become less fun for me somewhere down the line, whereas my sister seems to get more into it as time goes on.)
  • Then we had a relatively quiet week, broken only by the final photo contest of 2022, which had the theme of doors and windows. On a related, non-Christmas-y note, I absolutely love that phone cameras have gotten so good. Of the four pictures I entered, three were taken on my phone, and they came out really well. They were high enough quality to work with (you couldn't make a large print of them, but for an 8x10 or a digital competition, they were sufficient), and because my workplace has a lot of really nice stained glass windows, it was great to be able to just take pictures where I happened to come across them instead.
  • AND THEN WE'RE BACK TO CHRISTMAS! My grandpa arrived on the 23rd to stay for the weekend, and having him here was lovely. The next day we attended our church's noon Christmas Eve service, which I think was so well-done — sometimes I feel a little dissatisfied with how our church does Christmas Eve because it's not the traditional candlelight service, but this year's service was just so good. (Also, I discovered that I don't mind Lauren Daigel's "Noel" when it's not Daigel singing it.)
  • Christmas itself was very nice as well. Everyone seemed to like the gifts I got them, which was a relief — I was second-guessing almost everything I got anyone this year. For my part, I was very happy with everything I got, but I was probably most excited about the Between Shifts paperback, a new mouse (that will hopefully prevent/reduce some of the wrist pain I've been dealing with in the last few months) and the fact that I finally got the NASA Grand Tour calendar. (It has travel posters for different planets and systems and asteroids for each month and it's just so cool.)
  • The last bit of December has been, thankfully, quiet, both at work and at home. We'll finish out the month with our Bible study New Year's Eve get-together, and all in all, I think it's been a good end to the year.

January Plans

  • I know I said this last year, but I really need to finish Bastian Dennel, PI #3. Depending on how long that takes, I still have a secret project novella that I want to start on, but I would have to write a complete, serviceable first draft in about a month's span . . . it's doable, but the last time I did it, I wasn't working full time, so we'll see what happens.
  • Book-wise, I'm trying not to make too many predictions about what I'll read because I always seem to be wrong, but I do need to finish rereading Mistborn Era 1 (especially since The Lost Metal is releasing next year), and I want to continue rereading Wheel of Time while I still have something resembling momentum.
  • And, like I said last month, I need to be working on taking photos for the 2022 photo club contests. The January contest is "household items," which I think will be fun. Still life, macro, and abstract photography is my jam, and so something like this is right up my alley.
  • Finally, at work, my direct supervisor is retiring, and her replacement will be coming in partway through the month. I'm not going to lie; I'm nervous. But I do have confirmation that my very worst fears won't come to pass, so we'll see what happens.
  • Yeah. In general, I'm hoping for a quiet month. We'll see if I actually get it or not!

How was your December? Any exciting plans for January? Any delightful Christmas stuff you did? What was your favorite holiday treat that you enjoyed this year? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


  1. Best of luck with your January plans. That crochet garden is soo cool. I started crocheting, I'm not good but I managed to knit my cousin a Dobby hat for Christmas it was fun and relaxing in a way.

    1. Thank you! And I don't know; I think you must have at least a bit of skill for that project — it doesn't look simple, by any means. Nice work!


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