Friday, December 3, 2021

November 2021 Doings!

It's Christmas! Christmastime, anyway! The tree and decorations are up, I'm listening to Christmas music while I write this, and I started my Advent calendar (which contains cheese! not only that, but pretty good English cheese! plus cheese-related jokes for each day!) earlier this week. This is the first time I've had a food-based Advent calendar, and I am quite pleased with it at the moment. But this post is not about Christmas. It's about November, which only contains a small slice of Christmastime — and that at the end. Let's see what happened the rest of the month.


  • In theory, this past month was NaNoWriMo. In practice, it was a month in which I was writing and feeling grateful for the words I did get and letting the ones I didn't go (because I was tired and when I'm tired I have trouble being creative and focusing on one task).
  • My current WIP is Bastian Dennel, PI #3, which had a name very briefly in the planning stage but then lost it when it turned out to (A) not actually fit the piece of the story it was meant to fit and (B) sound too similar to the title of another book I intend to write if I have time. It's a Cinderella retelling, the first I've written in . . . um . . .
  • So I just had the realization that this is the first time I've actually written a Cinderella retelling. Not sure how that happened. I know I've had ideas for Cinderella retellings in the past, but not many, and none I've acted on. Maybe it's because Cinderella has never really been my favorite fairytale? But I don't dislike it to the point that it actually motivates me to come up with a better version. (Or it could just be that there's already a lot of Cinderella stories out there. I don't know.)
  • In any case, I'm writing one now. I'm at about 17K words and 11 chapters in, which is nowhere near as far along as I wanted to be, but also . . . November is a busy month, and the days are short, and my motivation drops when the sun goes down. So I'm grateful for the words I have in there, and I'm still optimistic about finishing the rest soon.


  • Another light month on the reading front — in terms of quantity of books, anyway.
  • This month only included three new-to-me reads: Vespertine, Coraline, and Curse of the Midnight King. Vespertine was absolutely one of my top reads of the month, if not the top read of the month. It was everything I wanted it to be and more: Margaret Rogerson's magnificent style of storytelling and knack for excellent protagonists and relationships, a dark and rich world (with LORE), major Abhorsen vibes (in the best possible ways), multiple enemies-to-friends dynamics . . . it's so good, y'all. Coraline, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe it's because I'm an adult and not a kid, but I didn't find it half as creepy as people made it out to be. It was a good story, but I didn't love it. As for Curse of the King, I posted my thoughts on it a few weeks ago, but the TL;DR is that I liked the story even though I didn't really connect to one of the main characters.
  • The rest of the month was made up of rereads. I finished the Dragons in Our Midst series with Circles of Seven (still one of my favorite Davis books) and Tears of a Dragon (still one of my least favorites, though I did like it a bit more than I did the last time I read it). I also reread The Fifth Elephant, which I liked the first time around and liked better still this time. I'm hoping to get to Thud! and Snuff soon, but I continuously have trouble getting ahold of them at the library when I want them. (I've only been trying to get to them for the last four years at least.) And How To was, of course, very fun to read. Randall Munroe's stuff always is. (Technically, there's a chance I'm still reading it when you read this post, but I expect that I finished it Thursday night after I finished writing this post.)
  • The biggest reading achievement of the month is that I finally did what I've been meaning to do all year and started back on the Wheel of Time books by rereading The Eye of the World. It was, as I remembered, a long book that feels its length. But I do think I liked it better this time than I did the first time I read it — and I did pick up on a bit more, even though I never even came close to finishing the series. It's kind of funny to look back at my notes and review from the first time I read it, though, particularly when it comes to my opinions on certain characters.
  • That said, now that I've made a start on the series again, I'm a bit more motivated to continue. My current plan is to aim for a book or so a month until I catch up with the Wheel of Time readthrough on, then read along with that. Or maybe I'll keep reading at a faster pace. We'll see.


  • So, mostly I just watched Critical Role, and not even much of that. I'm definitely not doing a good job keeping up with the new campaign (though I guess I'm only a couple episodes behind, which isn't bad). I'm still enjoying it; I just haven't had a lot of time for it. Laudna and Imogen are probably my favorites characters of the new campaign, but Orym and Dorian are very close seconds. I can tell that all the players had a lot of fun coming up with their characters, though, which is delightful.


  • It's kinda weird that this is the hardest category to write. It's probably because I have a record of what I wrote and read in any given month, but I don't have a good record of what I actually did.
  • Anyway. We'll hit the highlights first. The most exciting bit of November was, of course, Thanksgiving. My sister brought a friend home from college with her, so that was different — it was the first time she or I brought a friend back from break with us as a guest and not just as someone getting a ride from us. Both my sister and her friend had a lot of homework, but we managed to get in several games of Sentinels. As for the actual holiday: I made a cranberry apple pie and rolls, and my mom made pumpkin pie and green bean casserole, and we went to celebrate with some other families from our Bible study, and that was delightful. And the day after that we put up our tree, which I already sort of talked about.
  • A bit less exciting but still important to me: we celebrated my birthday about midway through November. We didn't do anything big, but my mom made pecan pie, and we went out to eat, and it was nice, y'know?
  • So much for the big events. In terms of smaller occurrences, the second meeting of my board game Connect Group went a bit better than the first. I mean, I still only had one person show up, but it was a different person, and the person who came to the first meeting would've been at the second as well had she not been out of town. And I had someone else express interest later in the same week, so I have high hopes for next Tuesday! (I'm trying to temper them with the knowledge that it's the holiday season and everyone's busy.)
  • I didn't have as much success as I hoped with doing more photography. Sadly, I missed out on some photography workshops that I would've enjoyed — I knew they were happening, but they were connected to a larger event, and I didn't realize that they were workshops in the sense of "Opportunity to actually take pictures of a thing" as opposed to "Slightly more interactive talk on how to take pictures of a particular type of thing." That said, I did go out with my sister on Thanksgiving weekend so I could take some pictures of her with the stained glass windows at the church where I work, and I think those will turn out well once I do some editing. I'll have to do a bit of sort-of-HDR and exposure-and-focus-stacking, I think, to get the effect I want.
  • (It's only sort of HDR because HDR, or high dynamic range photography, usually doesn't work with live subjects — you're stacking different exposures of photo on top of each other to bring out maximum detail and color, and any movement or change in the image can create "ghosts." But I think that since I'll only be really using it on a portion of the image, it'll be ok. We'll find out.)
  • On the D&D front, this month was really fun. The group I run finally got to play again, and the characters survived their first venture into the Feywild (and I got to play a twisty and overdramatic fey lord; it was delightful). And in the other campaign, we fought a sea serpent, got quite a lot of money from a giant's horde (the giant had attacked us earlier, and we'd found a map to where he kept his treasure), and had some really good roleplaying moments with one player's new character reacting to what is, essentially, his first time adventuring with a team.
  • And then, of course, there's my day job, which continues to go reasonably well. I keep bracing for the wave of holiday busy-ness to crash down and pull me under, but so far, things have been pretty calm. Another month and a bit and I'll have worked here for a full year, which is quite exciting.

December Plans

  • I need to finish Bastian Dennel, PI #3. This is a very definite must. I'm also hoping to squeeze in a couple holiday short stories and maybe start writing a new novella that's not in any of my established storyworlds? We'll see how much time I have and how well the rest of my WIP goes. If nothing else, I'll find a way to fit in my annual New Year's Eve story. (And, of course, I have to balance that with a bunch of blogging: my year-end book roundups, yearly goal posts, Winter 2021-22 reads, and regular weekly blog posts . . .)
  • On the reading front, I want to read a fair bit in Kindle Unlimited, since I forgot to cancel my subscription in November and I want to make it worthwhile. I'm also hoping to start rereading the next Wheel of Time and maybe the Legends of Karac Tor series as well. And I'm going to squeeze in some of my favorite Christmas reads, namely The Enchanted Sonata. If anyone has any additional recomendations, I'd love to hear them!
  • Speaking of Christmas: I'm almost halfway done with Christmas shopping already — in fact, I wrapped and sent off one person's gift last weekend. I have some left to do, though, and some of it involves actually making things, so that'll take some time.
  • And, of course, it's Christmas cookie time! I already have some ideas of what I want to bake this year, and I'm super excited for that. (How soon is too soon to start baking?)
  • I don't actually have any big Christmas plans — just the usual things my family always does, plus my work's Christmas event. But that's fine by me. I like quiet, especially when it's quiet because we choose for it to be quiet and not because it has to be quiet.
  • I also need to get busy doing photography towards some of the upcoming 2022 contests for the photo club. One of the contests is street photography, which . . . I do not know how or where to do that. But I'll figure something out, I suppose.

How was your November? Any exciting plans for December? How did NaNoWriMo go for you, if you participated? What are your favorite Christmas reads? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


  1. I love the idea of a cheese advent calendar. I wonder if my local cheese shop has one, or something like it.
    The Enchanted Sonata is yet another one on my TBR. I keep hearing about how good the Heather Dixon books are.
    Christmas cookie time, yes! I started Dec 1, and found a new favourite recipe. On the topic of baking, your Thanksgiving pie and rolls look beautiful!

    1. You should look! I got mine at Lidl, though, so it's not just specialty shops that might have them.

      YESSS READ IT. I love all of Heather Dixon's books, and I wish she'd write more.

      Delightful! What's the recipe, out of curiosity? And thank you!

    2. Peppernuts/pfeffernuesse. There are insane versions of the recipe that apparently make 99 tiny cookies. I suppose I used the half recipe, but it still took me three days to bake them all.

    3. Dear goodness. That's an INSANE amount of cookies. Though I'm still half-tempted to look it up and give it a try. xD


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