Friday, January 21, 2022

On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 3: January 2022

Hey'a, all! It's a month into winter, and that means it's time for another issue of On the Taleweaver's Desk, the part of the blog where I unpack the "big picture" of my writing activities and the status of my various writing projects. I think I'll probably be sticking with the format that I put together last time for now, but again, if there's any way you think I can improve this setup, let me know. As always, if you want more information on any project in this post, you can find that on my Works in Progress page!

On the Taleweaver's Desk
Issue 3: October 2022

On the Desktop

These are the projects you might find open on my laptop or desk if you took a peek at it during a normal day. They're currently in progress and at the top of the priority chart.

Mask of Scarlet (Bastian Dennel, PI #3)

What is it? Book 3 in my Bastian Dennel, PI series, a Jazz Age mystery take on Cinderella (with a little inspiration from "The Red Shoes" for extra spice).

Status: First draft finished; first rough edit in progress; cover reveal coming soon!

Three months later, it's done! Well, drafted, at least. That's two months longer than I planned to take drafting this, but it's fine — in hindsight, I was kind of overambitious with my goal. I'm currently in the middle of doing a rapid, rough edit before I send this off to beta readers — essentially, I'm reworking some key scenes that I know have to change, making sure the changes that I made halfway through get carried back to the beginning, and fixing glaring issues, but it's not the full-on rewrite that I often do. Then it'll be ready to go to betas at the end of the month! I also have a cover reveal coming up on February 9; fill out the form here if you want to be a part of that (or if you want to help officially announce the group release it's a part of).

Super Secret Mystery Project

What is it? You don't know (unless you're one of, like . . . a half dozen or so people). It's a mystery and will remain so for . . . mmm, probably about a month and a half or two months.

Status: Going to start writing it soon! Have been thinking about it inordinately much for the past few months!

Yeah. Because I don't want to give too many details before I'm absolutely certain that the plans I have will work out (I don't like making promises I can't keep, y'know?), there's not a ton I can say about this. But I'm planning to write it in February while Mask of Scarlet is with beta readers (unless I can't resist the urge to start it sooner), it's a retelling of technically three stories (only one of which is, strictly speaking, a fairy tale or folktale), and it could arguably be considered portal fantasy.  

D&D Campaign: Defenders of Serys

What is it? Defenders of Serys is the homebrew D&D campaign that I run for my D&D group.

Status: Thinking about the second module of Season 4. Should be writing that, oops.

I haven't really worked on this much? Honestly, I thought about sliding it down a section to Stacked on the Side just because I finished planning the first adventure and then didn't write any more because I needed to focus my energy on Mask of Scarlet (with the exception of couple of extra sessions of material to account for the fact that one of my players was going to miss a full month of play). That said, it needs to go back up the priority stack because I only have three or four more sessions' worth of material, so here On the Desktop it shall stay!

Stacked on the Side

These are the stories that I'm not actively working on (at least not officially), but I'm keeping close at hand because I plan to get back to them soon (or I just work on them sporadically as the urge takes me).

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my October 2021 update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

Blood in the Earth

What is it? Blood in the Earth is the sequel to Blood in the Snow and a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with the myth of Hades and Persephone.

Status: First draft finished; awaiting revisions. Despite my earlier hopes, I probably will not get back to this story this year.

Once Upon a Dream

What is it? A light steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy?) Sleeping Beauty retelling; the predecessor to The Midnight Show

Status: Edited several times over. Awaiting another round of rewrites/expansion/edits.

Shelved for Now

These are stories that are also on hold, but which I don't have specific plans to work on very soon. They're still within easy reach should I decide to return to them, but they aren't a top priority.

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my October 2021 update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

Dust of Silver

What is it? Classic-ish fantasy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with Rapunzel, the first book in what has the potential to be a rather long series. Also, a rewrite of a book I wrote years ago that won't let go of me because CHARACTERS.

Status: Several chapters into the rewrite, though those several chapters haven't been touched in a few years. I swear I'll get back to this . . .

Between Two Worlds

What is it? A portal fantasy adventure about what happens when you come home from the adventure, only to discover that the adventure isn't quite as done with you as you thought.

Status: Awaiting another round of edits/rewrites while I write other things and daydream about its sequels.

The Way of the Pen

What is it? Self-aware fantasy adventure about a girl and her author.

Status: The first draft is sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting for its turn back in the spotlight, as it has been for some time.

Berstru Tales series

What is it? A classic epic fantasy series and the longest-running series I've worked on (either in the number of books written or in how long I've worked on it.

Status: Needs to be rewritten from the ground up, but the bones are good. I did come up with more new and exciting ways to make the characters' lives difficult, so . . . there's that?

A Tower of Portals Campaign

What is it? A second D&D campaign inspired by one of my favorite video games.

Status: On hold; worked on as I come up with new ideas and have time.

Awaiting Delivery

These are the stories that are on their way, but haven't quite arrived yet to the point where I can write them: ideas I'm toying with but haven't even started to draft because they're still too nebulous.

Additional Bastian Dennel, PI novels

What is it? Exactly what the heading said.

Status: I have between three and five reasonably solid ideas that I'm pretty confident I'll write, as well as few other concepts that basically amount to "Hey, this fairy tale would be really fun to rework as a mystery and throw Bastian into." I also have a rough idea of which three I'll write next, though that's subject to change.

Novellas from the world of Blood in the Snow

What are they? Currently, three and a half ideas for spinoffs, most of which are also fairy tale retellings: one Puss in Boots (no, really), one Orpheus and Eurydice (probably crossed with a similar Japanese myth, Izanagi and Izanami), one Snow Queen (that's the half an idea), and one that's not currently a fairy tale retelling but would be about Gan and Azuma before they were animal-keepers at the emperor's palace (inspired the summer I spent watching a lot of Hogan's Heroes.

Status: Won't be written until after I edit Blood in the Earth. And the half-an-idea Snow Queen, which had the best chance of being written before then, has been . . . supplanted. Of the others, I have rough ideas of scenes in two of them, and a general concept for the last.

Unnamed Fantasy Murder Mystery

What is it? Exactly what the headline says. A prominent noble is murdered; his adoptive daughter is poised to inherit his lands and position — but some are saying her hand was behind his death.

Status: Still just an idea. Still not going to be tackled until after Blood in the Earth.

Mechanical Heart Sequel

What is it? Exactly what the title says.

Status: Still half-formed. Not a high priority, as Mechanical Heart stands very well on its own. May or may not actually happen.

Worldhoppers Inc./Mythology D&D Campaign

What is it? Yet another homebrew D&D campaign. Or two. Technically it's two possible themes for series of connected one-shots and short-term adventures, with a few adventure ideas for each theme and a chance that I'll just try to combine them.

Status: Probably not going to work on this until I have a lot of spare time, need a new campaign for my D&D group, or have reason to prioritize the Welsh myth adventure.

I think that's everything! Which of these stories are you most interested in? Any questions you have about any of them? (If you ask in the next week or so, I might be willing to provide extra info or hints!) What projects are you currently working on?
Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 14, 2022

In Which I Ramble About D&D Characters

You may not have picked up on this, but I really like D&D. And my favorite part is arguably creating and developing D&D characters . . . as evidenced by the fact that I have more D&D characters than I'll ever actually play, even when you don't count NPCs with character sheets. It's a nice outlet for the ideas that probably won't fit into any of the stories I have planned (of which there are many). At this point, I have characters built in each of the D&D classes except one . . . but there are definitely some classes and subclasses that I like more than others. So, in honor of the fact that I might get to actually play a new character soon, I thought I'd take today's Friday 5s to highlight some of my favorite D&D subclasses.

In Which I Ramble About D&D Characters

  1. Fighter: Eldritch Knight. The Fighter class in general is usually not my go-to, but the Eldritch Knight, a warrior-magic user hybrid, is the exception — it's the only subclass I have two distinct created character concepts for. I think it offers some nice hooks for character development (notably, how and why did this character pick up the ability to do magic?), but it doesn't tie you as much to a particular character type in the way that many other martial-caster hybrids do. I haven't actually gotten to play an Eldritch Knight yet, but one of the players in my campaign does, and I look forward to the day I get to as well.
  2. Warlock: Celestial Pact. On the flip side from the Fighter, I find several of the Warlock subclasses interesting — I'd probably play all but two of them, given the chance. It's hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, I'd go with the Pact of the Celestial. It's so contrary to the typical associations of the Warlock class, plus it gives a very nice character hook in the form of "If this character is pledged to a celestial, near-deity being, why is this character a Warlock instead of a completely different class?"
  3. Monk: Way of the Cobalt Soul. I know it's not an official, published D&D subclass (though it's a Matt Mercer original, and it's on D&D Beyond, so it's practically official), but I just really like the vibes of the Cobalt Soul Monk. Like, the Monk class in general is fun (it would be my first choice if I wanted to play a martial-only character), but this particular subclass is probably my favorite — it's the perfect balance between the academic, nerdish type of awesome and the more, ah, battle-ready type of awesome. (Is my love of this class influenced by my love of stories like The Invisible Library? Absolutely. Is that a problem? Absolutely not.)
  4. Rogue: Arcane Trickster. Fun fact: my first character was almost an Arcane Trickster Rogue (read: Rogue with magic). I decided not to because I wasn't confident enough to pull off the character concept I'd come up with . . . but it would've been fun. As you've probably picked up on by now, I really enjoy half-caster classes (they do a little of everything!), and the Arcane Trickster gives you some nice character hooks without doing too much to suggest a particular backstory or character type. (That said, I do eventually want to dust off that first character idea and play her someday. We'll see if and when it actually happens.)
  5. Paladin: Oath of Devotion. I'll admit, this is makes my list for personal reasons than stylistic ones — my first D&D character (who I'm still playing!) is an Oath of Devotion paladin. But I do love the class concept all the same. It's the archetypal holy warrior, the knight who stands in the way of darkness with a sword and shield of light (figuratively, not literally) and defends all that is good, who puts their life on the line for friend or stranger or, in some cases, even an enemy. And even if I don't always play my paladin that way (she asked for none of this, y'all), it's very much an archetype I love.

So, yeah. I would like to say that I'm off to make yet another D&D character, but I'm probably actually going to go try to finish Bastian Dennel, PI #3, which is an objectively more productive use of my time. But in the meantime, do you play D&D? What are your favorite character classes or subclasses, either that you've played or that you really want to play? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 7, 2022

End-of-Year Book Celebration 2021!

Hello, hello, hello, my friends! The time has COME for me to review the second half of my 2021 reads! As you may remember, back in June, I rebranded these posts as End-of-Year (and Mid-Year) Book CELEBRATIONS. I mean, I'm not freaking out, but I am getting very exciting and celebrating all the goodness. If you want the short and sweet version, head over to my other blogs for my Top 5 Reads of the second half of 2021. Otherwise, for all the details, read on!

2021 End of Year Book Celebration

As per the usual, let's get the statistics out of the way first. I read 122 books and 37,923 pages in 2021, well over my goal of 77 books and only a little under my total for last year (126). 78 of those have been read since my mid-year post, so it's safe to say that the second half of 2021 included a lot more reading than the first half did. In all fairness, the first half of the year also involved much longer books than the second half. If you want some additional stats, you can check out my Goodreads Year in Books. As for my more specific goals:

  • Starting at the end: I have successfully kept a book tracking spreadsheet for the last few months! Making sure it was bookmarked in an easily-visible location helped quite a bit, since it served as a little reminder every time I saw it. Plus, once I built up enough momentum, I didn't want to give up on it. (I am very much a completionist, haha!)
  • I read 7 books published before 1975, which is a bit short of my goal of 12 such stories. Part of the problem is that I intended to read more C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, and then I just . . . didn't.
  • We get a cheerier result in books that aren't speculative fiction. Out of my goal of 12 books, I've read either 11 or 12, depending on whether or not I count Isle of Swords. Eight of those are even nonfiction, which I feel I can be reasonably proud of.
  • On the flip side, we have my goal of 1 epic-length Tolkien or Jordan fantasy novel every two months, which . . . did not happen. On the upside, I did finish rereading The Lord of the Rings, and I started rereading The Wheel of Time, which was the point of making the goal, so I count that as a win.
  • 1 epic-length Tolkien or Jordan fantasy novel every two months, which . . . did not happen. On the upside, I did finish rereading The Lord of the Rings, and I started rereading The Wheel of Time, which was the point of making the goal, so I count that as a win.

And now, let's get to the bit y'all are probably interested in: the highs and lows of the second half of 2021's reading! As a note, I am adjusting the list of questions to remove the ones I don't really have an answer for or tend to answer the same way every year. They'll come back if I have a good answer for them.

1. Best book you've read in the second half of 2021:

HELLO Vespertine (Margaret Rogerson)! I was so hyped for this book (hyped enough to buy the OwlCrate special edition, even), and it absolutely did not disappoint. It had big-time Sabriel vibes, some magnificent antagonist-to-friends dynamics, and LORE, all wrapped up in an excellent storyline. I haven't been the best about keeping up with new releases, but I'm so glad I caught this one.

2. Best sequel series you've read in the second half of 2021:

(It's my post, I can change questions if I want to.)
The City Between series by W.R. Gingell was absolutely one of the highest points of my reading year — maybe even the high point, even if I read it at a time when I was feeling rather low otherwise. The books are short-ish and highly addictive in both how fun they are and how thoroughly the characters make themselves at home in your heart and then give you all kinds of emotions when tragedy strikes. (I wasn't being dramatic when I said I was undone by the ending of some of the books, y'all. Well, ok, I was, but it was necessary drama.) The last book releases at the end of the month, and I don't know what I'll do without my magnificent Aussie urban fantasy now that I've discovered it . . . thankfully, the author is going to write spinoffs, so hopefully I won't have to find out!

3. New release you haven't read yet but want to: 

 Of Fire and Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams just came out earlier this month, and I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so! (We'll see if I end up buying it myself or if the library will come through and get it.)

4. Most anticipated release for next year: 

Apparently we're getting The Lost Metal next November, so I'm definitely hyped for that! I'm also looking forward to Kendra E. Ardnek's Crown and Cinder, which is Pride and Prejudice crossed with Cinderella.

5. Biggest disappointment:

T. L. Huchu's The Library of the Dead is a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy mystery set in Scotland, and it had so much potential — something like a cross between Jackaby and Sabriel. Instead, it was just frustrating and disappointing and vaguely confusing. Alas.

6. Biggest surprise:

Romance-heavy, slow, character drama with light enough fantasy elements that, were it not set in a somewhat different world than our own, it could pass for magical realism? Not the type of book I'd expect to fall in love with. But I loved W.R. Gingell's Lady of Dreams and its sequel Lady of Weedsintensely, and I look forward to when I get to reread them.

7. Favorite new-to-you author:

I'm not sure if this counts, since I've only read one of her books, but I did love Sarah K. L. Wilson'sHeart of Shadow, and I'm looking forward to both reading the sequel and picking up some of the author's other works!

8. Newest fictional crush/ship:

Just . . . all the W.R. Gingell couples, but the ones I love most are spoilers and therefore cannot be spoken of.
Also, on a related sidenote, I would rather like a sword like the one in Heart of Shadow. That is all.

9. Newest favorite character:

Too many to list! Most of them, again, from W.R. Gingell books. But since we said newest: Artemisia and the Revenant from Vespertine are both fabulous, and I love them.

10. A book that made you cry:

Between Casescry isn't quite the right word, but there was internal wailing and undone-ness (as I believe I've mentioned).

11. A book that made you happy:

I read the full version of The Story Girl (Lucy Maud Montgomery) for the first time this year, and it was absolutely delightful. I don't know why more people don't love it.

12. Most beautiful book you've bought/received this half of the year:

I mentioned I bought the Owlcrate edition of Vespertine, yeah? It is very pretty. That is all.

13. Any other books you want to babble about for any other reason?

I did a ton of rereading in the last six months, and the highlight of that was probably revisiting Bryan Davis's Dragons in our Midst series. It used to be one of my favorite series, but I haven't read it in ages. It is just about as good as I remembered — though it took until now for the realization to hit that several characters probably do have a West Virginian accent, which is just kinda . . . huh.
Well, there's my celebration! How about you? What were the highs and lows of your last six months, reading-wise? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Year is Going; Let It Go [2021 Recap//2022 Goals]


Here's the good news, y'all: no bad puns in this year's post! Probably. There's no actual guarantee, but I can say with confidence that if any show up, they'll be a surprise to both of us.

Anyway, 2022! It exists! We made it! Huzzah! On the whole, 2021 wasn't . . . well, for me, it wasn't as bad as it could've been, and in hindsight, it doesn't feel as bad as it probably should. There were a few objectively non-great things that happened — one in particular — but they were outweighed by all the good that happened. Thank you, God, for that.

So, what made 2021 an actually-pretty-solid-except-for-that-one-bit year? What are my goals for 2022, and how many of them will I forget by February? It's time to get some answers . . . to the first two, at least. Obviously we'll have to wait until February or March for the answer to the third.

(Oh, and as a note in case anyone missed it, my New Year's Eve short story went up . . . well, on New Year's Eve, and I'll post my 2021 reading recaps later this week. They'll probably go up on Friday, but it's hard to say. I may post them early.)

2021 Recap // 2022 Goals

2021 Recap

Year of Finally?

  • You may remember that at the start of 2021, I said that I was going to try to combine CGP Grey's "Year of . . . " or "theme" method with my usual goal-setting. You may also recall that I picked "Year of Finally" as my theme.
  • Did it work out? It's hard to say. I did accomplish some things that I've been meaning to get to for a while, but I largely did them long after I'd forgotten about setting the theme. Maybe I was still thinking about it subconsciously? But I'm not confident in that assessment.
  • Overall, I think that while the themes are a nice idea, they aren't any more useful than the goals I normally set. Will I set a "Year of . . ." theme for 2022 to give it another try? We'll figure that out sometime between now and when I get to the Goals section of this post.


  • So, I said once again that I was going to set and actively work towards monthly writing goals . . . and I genuinely do not know if I can say I accomplished it or not? On one hand, I didn't have specific month-by-month wordcount goals to work for. On the other hand, I did have projects that I was actively working on the whole year with deadlines for those projects that often meant I was saying "I want to get this much done by the end of the month.) So, even if I didn't succeed in the letter of the goal, I definitely achieved the spirit of the goal.
  • As far as how much writing I did, I have a combined writing and editing total of 174,077 words spread over three main projects. I'm not going to try to separate out the two because the first rewrite of Gilded in Ice involved a lot of overlap — there were a lot of chapters that I either wrote new for that draft or essentially rewrote from the ground up. That's a little less than half of what I wrote and edited last year, but given that I spent most of last year at home with not much to do besides write and apply for jobs, while this year I was working full time, I feel like I did pretty well.
  • As far as specific project goals go:
    • I finished drafting Gilded in Ice, edited it, and published it. This was my big goal for the year, and I'm quite happy with the final product. There were some setbacks along the way (including but not limited to: having to essentially rewrite the book, getting sick the month before it was going to come out, and generally having less writing time than I have in the past), but it's out, and the release was probably the smoothest I've ever had.
    • I kept up with writing my Defenders of Serys D&D campaign. We've moved into the fourth "season" of the campaign, after spending a good year dealing with pirates and dragon hunters. From that, I've learned a fair bit about how I want to run adventures in the future — namely, keep the number of significant NPCs present at any given time fairly low and move back towards shorter adventures.
    • I did not start my Shattered Mirrors Arista Challenge story, though I did come up with an idea for it that I really liked. And I very much want to write it because it would give me a little bit of a break from the storyworlds I've been working in. We'll see what happens there.
    • I also did not rewrite Blood in the Earth or rewrite or edit any backlog projects. Gilded and Bastian Dennel #3 both have taken up a lot of time, plus I lost several weeks in August, and it just didn't happen.
  • I stayed fairly consistent with blogging. I did take more breaks than I have in the past, but I allowed for that in last year's goal. I was less consistent with my author socials, but I still managed to hit more weeks than I missed, so I'm not beating myself up about that. I also introduced a new blog post series, On the Taleweaver's Desk, that gives the big-sized picture of what's going on with my writing throughout the year, and I think that's going to be helpful both for me and for y'all.


  • I'll cover most of this in my Best of/End-of-Year Book Celebration posts, which will be up later this week, so I'm not going into a lot of detail here.
  • In summary: I surpassed my goal of how many books I wanted to read in general, but I either didn't quite succeed at or just barely succeeded at most of my more specific goals.
  • I did successfully keep a book-tracking spreadsheet for more than a month, and I think it was helpful in tracking what I've read and accomplished.


  • I've worked at my job doing graphic design for a local church for almost a year. It'll be a full year on the fifth, which is pretty exciting. I'm still enjoying it, and I feel like I have a nice rhythm and routine, but not so strict of a routine that I'm getting bored. The work occupies that lovely space between varied and challenging enough that I can't lose interest but not so difficult that I'm constantly discouraged and frustrated, and the people are lovely.
  • I've kept up with German. I had a very nice streak going until sometime in August when I got sick and had to take a break. But I got back into it as soon as I was feeling better, and I've even managed to get pretty high on their leaderboards for how many lessons and stories you complete per week.
  • I've started doing some photography again. I went through with rejoining the photo club, and even though I don't always feel like attending the lecture nights, the photo contests are definitely worth it for both the critiques and the motivation. I've gotten to do a few "photo expeditions" to different places, which has been fun. And I've also discovered that my phone takes decent enough quality photos that I can do "artsy" stuff on it when I encounter something worth photographing — for example, really nice light through the stained glass windows at the church where I work!
  • I started memorizing Scripture and poetry again. I used to do Scripture memory weekly for AWANA before we moved and I went to college, and I've meant to pick it back up ever since I graduated — even a bit before that, really. I wanted to be able to reliably and accurately recall relevant passages when I needed them . . . and I also feel like being able to pull poetry out of my back pocket when I want it would be . . . well, handy isn't the right word, really. Cool, maybe? Fun? It's something, anyway.
  • I went through my church's membership class and started a Connect Group! Kinda. Currently it meets once a month for Bible study and board games. There have been several hiccups, and I keep second-guessing everything and stressing out because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. I know I probably just need to give it time, but . . . it's stressful.
  • I found out what having pneumonia feels like. This was absolutely not a goal I wanted to achieve, but . . . it is useful for story research? Maybe? For those curious: it's not terribly exciting, but is rather tiring (because of the whole not-being-able-to-breath-deeply thing). It's also possible to have it and not realize it, so take note of that for potential drama-making.
  • As far as craft goals go, I did start a project with one of my special yarns, though I haven't finished it. (It's a scarf, and it's knitted, and it's not on really big needles, so I work on it for a while and then get bored and want to do something else. It'll be done eventually.) I didn't do anything with my cloak, unfortunately, but I did give latchhooking another go. That was pretty fun.
  • I ventured into new areas of bread-making with making naan/flatbread and bagels, settling on a reliable sourdough reciple, and adding things to my sourdough loaves. Naan, by the way, is delicious, and I need to make it again sometime soon. As far as bagels go, sourdough bagels seem to turn out the best, with the White Sulphur Springs recipe being a pretty solid second. As far as sourdough goes, I combined two recipes to produce a loaf that I reliably like and settled on that around the start of the year. In terms of add-ins, I actually haven't been that adventurous (I'm mostly just adding some herbs for extra flavor), but it has opened up a new world of potential, so it feels significant.
  • I attempted to learn video editing and then decided that it is not my jam. It's finicky, and I just . . . don't enjoy it. If it becomes necessary, I'll give it another try, but for the moment, I'll happily leave it to others.

All in all, as you can probably tell, 2021 wasn't a bad year. Could it have been better? Sure. But the same thing can be said of most years. And now that it's over, it's time to move on to . . .

2022 Goals

Year of  . . .

  • I said earlier in the post that I'd decide when I got to this point if I'm going to give the themes another try. And I have made that decision — mostly because I realized a lot of the goals I want to set follow a theme anyway.
  • What theme? Onward and upward. It's not a single word, but it's concise enough to work, and basically what I'm saying is: what I'm already doing well, I want to keep doing (onward), and I want to improve or expand it where I reasonably can (upward).
  • Now that I've written this, a part of me is saying that maybe it's a silly theme — after all, isn't that what you're supposed to do? Keep doing better at things? But I'm going with it anyway because it works. Anyway, with that theme in mind, let's get on to the specific goals.

Writing Goals

  • In the vein of onward, I again want to set and actively work towards monthly or multi-monthly writing goals in at least ten of the twelve months of 2022. I'm saying now for planning purposes: if I set a goal in, say, April, that I want to start drafting a novel in May and have it finished by the end of June, that's fine. Or if I have a goal of I need to write and edit this book by X date and x is four months away, that's fine too. The point is consistent, purposeful writing.
    • For January, my number one goal is to finish writing Bastian Dennel, PI #3. I need it done, and I need it done soon because of how the timing will work out for both when I want to publish it and other projects I need to work on. As I said in my last Doings! post, though, the end is in sight; I just have to keep my momentum.
  • The upward part of my writing goals for this year? I would love to put out more than one book in 2022. If things work out the way I want them to with finishing BDPI#3 and working on other projects I have in mind, this should be doable. We'll see.
  • To that point, there are, of course, some specific writing projects I want to tackle this year.
    • This goes without saying, but I need to finish, edit, and publish BDPI#3. I also need to name the thing, but I have two ideas floating in my head, firm enough that I think I should be able to do a title review relatively soon.
    • I need to decide if I'm writing my Super Secret Mystery Project and, if so, write and edit that. This project would involve a very fast turnaround time, but I really like the concept and it would be a nice break from Bastian Dennel books (which I love, but which I'll probably be writing for quite a while because I have so many ideas), so I may very well go for it.
    • I want to start work on BDPI#4. I have the concept/premise more or less figured out, though I still need to work out more details before I start writing. It's going to be fun, let me tell you.
    • I want to figure out what I'm going to do about the next Arista Challenge. This refers to the one for release in 2023; Kendra just announced that it'll be The Little Mermaid. I have an idea that I like, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it written in time, which might mean pushing said idea back . . . or rearranging some story order stuff, but we'll see.
    • I want to keep up with writing my Defenders of Serys D&D campaign. This is a pretty necessary goal if I want to keep my group going, since no one else has shown any indication that they want to DM and some people have said very definitively that they don't want to DM. That said, I'm not going to put any other D&D writing on the table as a goal — upward doesn't apply here; only onward. I don't think I'll have time for more.
  • Finally, I'm maintaining my goal from last year of keeping up with my blogging and author socials as much as I can. Specifically, I'd like to be better about prewriting blog posts when I have ideas and time, and I want to be more deliberate about taking pictures for IG/FB in batches so I'm not scrambling at the last minute on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. But I am also once again giving myself permission to skip one blog post and one social post per month as necessary (though I'd prefer not to skip both in the same week if I can avoid it).

Reading Goals

  • My reading goal for this year is 99 books. I feel pretty confident about my ability to reach that, since I've held steady at around 120 books a year for the last few years. That said, some of my more specific reading goals will mean I'm reading longer books, so I don't want to aim too high.
  • I'm repeating my goal of 12 books published (or written) before 1975. I thought about relaxing it, but . . . it's one book a month, and I know it should be doable. The trick is just finding the right books.
  • I've done pretty well with non-speculative-fiction reading goals in the past couple years, so we're amping that goal up to 15 non-speculative fiction books over the course of 2022. I've achieved this number before, so I know it's doable. Again, it's just a matter of finding the right books.
  • Carrying on something I started last year: I want to catch up with the Wheel of Time reading series and stay caught up with it. They're currently on Lord of Chaos, which is where I got stuck when I originally read the series. Based on how long the series has taken per book in the past, that probably means reading about four and a half books. That feels doable, especially if I get out the books as ebooks so I can more easily read when I'm out and about rather than just when I'm at home.
  • And a new goal: I want to read more poetry. I realized while figuring out what poetry to memorize that I've never spent that much time interacting with poetry outside of homework? And I feel like I should fix that. I think my goal at the moment is to spent some time reading poetry once a week — which, yes, is a low bar, but I have no idea what's reasonable and what's not, and I don't want to take too much time away from fiction.
  • Finally, I want to keep tracking my reads in detail. I think I'm going to switch to using a Google form, but I'm not 100% certain; I'll try it for a month and see how things go. I do know that I want to track a few more things this year (like physical vs. ebooks, owned vs. library vs. KU books, and whether or not specific elements are included), which means a form might be easier, but we'll see.

Life Goals

  • My first general-life goal for 2022 is to keep doing well at my job — I'd like to add an upward here, but I'm not quite sure what that looks like right now, and I think I'd have to talk to some other people to figure it out. Plus, with my current supervisor retiring and a new one coming in around the end of January, keep doing well and being reliable and taking things as they come without getting frustrated (in a time when many things are uncertain) may be enough on its own.
  • I want to keep practicing German. I'm debating adding a second language as well, in keeping with the upward part of my theme? But at the same time, I don't want to overdo it, and last time I tried learning a language with just Duolingo, I ended up confused about grammar and how verb endings work, so it didn't work out too well. We'll see.
  • I want to keep up with my Scripture and poetry memorization. I've already laid out what Scripture passages I'm memorizing through the end of the year. For the most part, I'm going for shorter sections than I did in 2021 — but some of what I attempted last year was a bit overambitious, especially for prose sections.
  • This is a bit cliche, but I want to find an exercise method that works for my current situation that I'll enjoy enough to do regularly. Ok, yes, that's setting the bar low. I'm trying to be realistic here, though. I know that I should exercise more than I do (also a low bar), but I also know that I won't do it if I don't enjoy it, health benefits or not.
  • On the more personal side, I need to stop catastrophizing so readily. I don't consider myself a pessimist, but if I'm upset about something, I can very easily jump to the worst non-impossible outcome of doing that thing. I know it's not a good habit, and I don't like to do it. I just sometimes don't know how to not do it — but I should probably figure it out.
  • Moving back to the doing-things goals: I want to attend at least one convention this year. Realm Makers is on the table because it's in a location I could drive rather than fly to, and I'd love to go at least once. Also, there's a board game convention that I'm also eying prospectively — though that one is dependent on how certain things work out in the friend group.
  • Finally — and this is a little bit of a stretch goal only because I don't know where it'll fit in — I want to do some combination of expanding existing skills, revisiting old skills, or trying to learn a new skill so it comes out to a total of doing three different things in one of these areas. It doesn't have to be big; if I learn a new baking technique or learn to bake or cook something with significant differences from things I already know how to make, that counts. And I don't have to stick with it; if I decide I want to learn another coding language but discover I hate it after a few weeks, I can leave it and it still counts. That said (and this is a note for future Sarah), the point is to either go upward with an existing skill or onward with learning new skills — so if I learn three new baking techniques over the next year, that's awesome, but it still only counts as one for purposes of this goal.

What were the highlights of your 2020? What goals, themes, or resolutions do you have for the new year? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!