Friday, February 25, 2022

February 2022 Doings!

And here we are again! It feels like I just did one of these . . . but, of course, February's a short month, and I did end up delaying my January Doings! by a week, so no surprise there. Most of this month's excitement has been writing-related, so let's just jump right in there.


  • On the whole, this was a pretty good writing month! It started, of course, with revealing the cover of Mask of Scarlet — which, friendly reminder, is available for preorder on Amazon! And if you can't wait for the release date, you can request an ARC of any of the Three Midnight Curfews.
  • On the day of the cover reveal, I also finished editing Mask of Scarlet and sent it off to betas. I know one has finished, and while I haven't looked at her in-manuscript comments yet, I know from her messages that I very much got the reactions I was hoping for. So that is very encouraging!
  • After sending out Mask, I did take a few days off from writing (mostly) as a bit of a break before jumping into outlining and drafting my Super Secret Mystery Project, also known (at least to me) as TaSG. If you can correctly guess what those initials stand for, I will give you a cookie . . . and maybe something else? We shall see. :D
  • In addition to TaSG/the Super Secret Mystery Project, I've been doing some thinking about future Bastian Dennel books. I think I have a good idea of what the next three or four books in that series are going to be, and I have a plan of when I'd like to release the next two. After that, well, we'll see what opportunities come up.
  • On the D&D front, I haven't done a whole lot of campaign/adventure writing, but I have done a lot of thinking about future plotlines and what might happen and where the characters might go. I mentioned last month that the group met the Fellowship — yes, that Fellowship — and was very excited about it. They also informed me that, in addition to wanting to potentially go back to Middle Earth, they would totally be down for more world-hopping adventures, which means I can potentially just combine a different campaign concept I was thinking about with the Defenders of Serys campaign. (And that, my friends, is a great relief.)
  • Finally, one last bit of exciting writing-related news: I am officially attending the Realm Makers conference in July! I have a registration and a room reservation (and a roommate), and I am SO HYPED. This will be my first-ever writing conference, and I can't wait to go, learn, and meet all the awesome people.


  • This has been an interesting mix of reads, to say the least. I discovered back in January that one of the libraries I go to was doing a winter reading challenge for adults, so I tried to tune some of my reading to that, with . . . mixed success. In addition, the other library I have a card at did a Blind Date with a Book event, which I'm sure you all can guess meant I was delighted.
  • My Blind Date Books were J.R.R. Tolkien's transaltion of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo and Gregory Maguire's A Wild Winter Swan. The Tolkien-translated poems were excellent, of course. It was interesting both to read the full version of Gawain and the Green Knight (since I've only ever read abridged or sanitized versions) and to read the medieval reimagining of Orpheus. As for A Wild Winter Swan, it was a very well-written book that I nonetheless did not particularly enjoy reading. I'd be happy to own the Tolkien, but I don't even think I'd consider rereading A Wild Winter Swan.
  • Other than that, I had two new reads: Death Wind (Elven Alliance #3) and Rise of the Dungeon Master, a graphic novel about how D&D was created. Both were quite good, and I definitely enjoyed them! In Death Wind, I did have some stylistic frustrations with the author's writing (which is nothing new), but the story was excellent. And Rise of the Dungeon Master was very well-written and well-illustrated, and I think the writer did an excellent job distilling and expressing the story.
  • I also reread quite a few books, all of them good. The highlights? The Lord God Made Them All is always a delight — it's James Herriot's fourth autobiography, and it's just as much a comfort story as the others. Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass were childhood favorites, and it was fun to revisit them. And Going Postal is one of my favorite Discworld books — no wonder, given that Moist von Lipwig is very much an example of one of my favorite archetypes.


  • As has been the usual, there's not much to say about this category . . . but I did finally finish Episode 5 of Critical Role Campaign 3, and I started Episode 6, so there's that. I continue to love all the characters, but Laudna and Imogen are definitely my favorites. (Orym is, like, third place, just because you can't not love him.)
  • (No, I haven't watched the show yet. Yes, I absolutely do want to watch it. I just have to get to the point where I have time to watch it.)


  • Mmmkay, what happened this month that didn't fit into a category I've already talked about . . .
  • Oh! We finally got a treadmill! I've been pushing on and off for us to get one for probably ten years at this point, on the basis of "Remember how when we had the one my grandpa gave us, I used it pretty much every day?" and, more recently, "You know how there's nowhere good to walk around here that doesn't require a fifteen-minute drive first?" We held off initially because we didn't want to have to move a treadmill and then because we couldn't agree on what we wanted. 
  • But! We finally agreed, and we put in the order around the beginning of the month, and then it arrived the day before the Mask of Scarlet cover reveal. We wanted them to deliver it down to the basement . . . so, of course, they instead put it in our front entryway. And then we had a very interesting night of trying to get it down the inside basement stairs. Eventually, we had to move it back outside, wheel it around the house on a dolly to the outdoor basement stairs, and take it down that way. On the upside, no one was injured, nothing broke, and now we have a treadmill! Which I have used multiple times, though not every day — I'm currently aiming for 2–3 times per week.
  • I tried a new biscotti recipe for National Biscotti Day. These ones were Milk Chocolate and Honey biscotti, and they were pretty tasty. They turned out a little darker than I wanted because I didn't leave them in long enough on the first bake and overcorrected on the second, but they were still good.
  • We did have several warm days this month, which was nice. Downside: that meant we had to go out and cut a tree into logs for splitting. (The tree in question had been cut down last November or December, but it's at the back of our property and not very convenient to get to.) Upside: a friend from our Bible study came out to help, which meant we finished much faster. Even more of an upside: the friend brought his crossbow to shoot and let us shoot some as well.
  • After procrastinating for about six months, I finally went and got my eyes checked and confirmed that yes, I do need new glasses, and then ordered the new ones the next week. I'm supposed to actually get the new glasses this weekend, and I'm rather excited. While I like my sunglasses, I've realized over the last two years that I made a mistake when picking the frames for my regular glasses (which are just for distance, for the record), getting ones that are smaller and looser than I really like. It took buying blue light glasses to realize my mistake. The new ones, however, should be a better fit, and I'm hopeful that they'll be less annoying to wear.
  • Otherwise, most of this month's excitement has been at work, where things have been quite busy with the newsletter, Lenten and Holy Week preparations (yes, Holy Week this far out!), and a funeral on top of the usual stuff that needs to get done. I'm certainly not complaining, since I'd rather be busy than bored, but it has been a lot, especially this past week.
  • Oh! And the last exciting thing that happened this month: not only did I make Duolingo's Diamond League (two weeks in a row!), but I hit the top spot on the leaderboard! It took a week of, ah, slightly obsessive Duolingo practicing. I mean, it was productive use of my time, but it was a lot of time on Duolingo.

March Plans

  • First job for March: finish drafting TaSG/the Super Secret Mystery Project. I've managed about a chapter per night thus far, with a few exceptions when I didn't write anything, so I feel good about this. It's first-person POV, which I think tends to go a little faster. I'm hoping to get this done early in the month so I can move on to the second job for March . . .
  • The second round of Mask of Scarlet edits! As I said, I have some comments back from betas, and I'm expecting more in the next week or two. Since this comes out at the end of April, I can't procrastinate on this, but I do want to finish the Super Secret Mystery Project draft before I switch over.
  • Of course, things might be slowed a little by the fact that my sister! is coming home! for spring break! And I am so excited to see her again! I'm a bit saddened that I probably won't be able to take time off, but I'll still get to hang out with her a fair bit outside of my working hours.
  • Work will probably continue to be busy all month. But, again, I'm not complaining. Better busy than bored, as long as I'm busy with good things and not busy putting out fires.
  • On the reading front, I have several series and series-rereads in progress that I want to finish (notably, Oracles of FireLegends of Karac Tor, and finally reading the last half-dozen Discworld books). I also have rather a lot of books in library stacks that I really should read . . . but, let's be real, I'm mostly going to continue mood-reading.
  • Finally, I'm hoping that spending time on the treadmill will also mean more time to watch stuff. I'd love to actually catch up on Campaign 3, start watching the Legend of Vox Machina show, and hopefully fit Encanto in there somewhere. That said, I'd settle for just watching more of Campaign 3, period.

How was your February? Any exciting plans for March? Any guesses about the Super Secret Mystery Project/TaSG? Are you going to Realm Makers? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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