Friday, February 4, 2022

January 2022 Doings!


It's the first Doings of 2022! Whoop whoop! January feels like it's been a pretty busy month, mostly because it included, as Bastian would say, a lot of lates and earlies — up as long as I could manage to draft or edit, up before the sun to get to work on time. All in all, though, it wasn't a bad month.


  • The first draft of Mask of Scarlet, aka Bastian Dennel, PI #3, is officially finished! And, if all goes to plan, by the time you read this, the second draft will be at least 70% done as well. It was a much cleaner first draft than Gilded in Ice, which I expected — there aren't quite as many elements to balance, and I didn't have to adjust the timing and pacing as much. Most of the biggest changes were in the first three or four chapters, which I wrote before I had all the story details I needed worked out.
  • In addition, Mask of Scarlet has a release date — April 29 — and soon will have a cover as well! The reveal is on February 9, so keep an eye out for that! Plus, The Midnight Show and Gilded in Ice will both be $0.99 (ebook) that day, if you haven't picked up either of those yet.
  • The book is also up for preorder on Amazon, so feel free to go check that out! Normally I hold off on the preorder until the cover reveal, but I'm releasing it a little early this time.
  • Finally, on the D&D front, my group finally reached one of the parts of the adventure I've been planning for the longest: an encounter with the Fellowship — yes, that Fellowship from LOTR! They met Merry, Pippin, Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, roughly in that order (and that should give you a clue about when in the story they met the Fellowship), and did effectively derail the course of one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time . . . but, of course, in this case, that was exactly what I hoped they'd do. (It's always worth noting when derailing a plotline makes a DM happy.) Of course, what I didn't anticipate was how much they'd want to either stick around in or come back to Middle Earth . . . so we'll see where things go (literally) once they finish up their current quest.


  • Things I intended to reread this month: The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time book 2) and the rest of Legends of Karac Tor.
  • Things I did not reread this month: The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time book 2) and the rest of Legends of Karac Tor. Oops. (In my defense, The Great Hunt is, as far as I remember, a lot of growing pains for Rand and Mat, and I just have not had the energy to deal with that or the amount of sadness in the latter three Karac Tor books.)
  • On the upside, the month started out very well — I finished The Dark Archive (only one book left before I'm caught up on the Invisible Library books!) and read Between Kings, the final City Between book. Both were excellent, especially Between Kings. It wasn't my favorite in the series, but it was a very good finale, and I was happy with where the characters landed.
  • I also continued my Dragons in Our Midst reread by moving on to the Oracles of Fire series. I've gotten through two of the books, and I'm enjoying them much more than I originally did.
  • Back to new reads — I cleared a few books off the backlist and read The Cruel Prince, The Innocence of Father Brown, and the first three volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, all of which I enjoyed for very different reasons. The Innocence of Father Brown was definitely the best of the three — no surprise there. The mysteries are clever, and I like the characters of Father Brown and Flambeau. I would honestly put them on a level with the Sherlock Holmes stories in many respects. As for the other two: The Cruel Prince was exciting, though not something I'd go out of my way to recommend — if you want a book about fae, there are better ones out there. Fullmetal Alchemist was an enjoyable read — I almost said a fun read, but that's not quite true, given some of the themes it deals with. But it wasn't all grimdark, and it has a nice brotherly relationship and some interesting lore, and it doesn't lean as heavily into certain uncomfy tropes as other manga I've read. I do plan to keep going with all three series as I'm able to get ahold of the books.
  • And then we have some assorted rereads: Ticket to Write by R.M.S. (a compilation of bus ticket poetry originally posted over on Against the Shadows), Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett (which is a very interesting take on a lot of fairy tales all put together), and Paper Crowns by Merriam Neal (a fun novella with a magical cat; very nice as a stress-reliever).


  • Focusing most of my time and energy on Mask of Scarlet has meant that I haven't had a lot of time to watch stuff, much to my disappointment — I'm missing my Critical Role, and I also desperately want to watch Encanto, since I keep hearing so many good things about it. Plus, Legend of Vox Machina just launched in animated form . . . it's a real problem.
  • The little bit of movie-watching I have done has mostly been with my family. We rewatched Charade at the start of the month, right before my sister went back to college, which was a lot of fun. It's my favorite older movie for a reason, you know?
  • But, yeah. Hopefully I'll be able to get in a little bit more watching-of-stuff once I finish this round of Mask of Scarlet edits.


  • January started off pretty well — although it snowed, which I distinctly don't love, that plus the cold and ice meant I got almost a week of either snow days or holidays or work from home. So that was nice. Less nice: the fact that all the other times it's snowed or sleeted or been otherwise inclement, it's been on weekends or days that I would have off anyway. Also, I'm sick and tired of being cold, and it's only a month and a bit into winter.
  • ANYWAY. Moving on from complaining about the weather: my sister headed back to college in the second week of January, which was sad . . . and also meant I was home alone for three days. More importantly, it meant I was responsible for keeping the fire going for three days, during which I'd mostly be at work. Thank God, I actually succeeded at that — and I didn't set myself or anything else on fire in the process. I still can't start a fire . . . but it didn't go out on my watch!
  • After that, the next big thing — and, honestly, the most noteworthy part of the month — happened at the very end of the month, when the Director of Admin at the church where I work retired. She'd worked there for 45 years in various positions, so that was a pretty big event at the church. It was really something to hear everything people had to say about how she'd influenced the community, not just of the church itself, but of the neighborhoods and city. For myself, I'm sad she's gone — she was my direct supervisor, and was genuinely a great person to work for and with — but her successor is lovely, so the transition hasn't been too difficult.
  • On the baking front, we've had a bit of a mixed month. I coincidentally happened to make a chocolate layer cake on J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday, so that worked out nicely . . . except for the bit where the cakes ended up not being fully done in the middle. Oops. We salvaged as much as we could and filled in the rest with the mini-mini cake we'd made with left and trimmings from leveling off the top. If nothing else, it tasted good!
  • Then I made pretzel knots about a week later, which were delicious. And the last thing I baked was a loaf of sourdough bread with cranberries and walnuts . . . which failed miserably because I didn't correctly adjust the baking time to account for the mix-ins. That was a thoroughly miserable day.
  • On a happier note, Michaels has been having yarn sales all month, so I've gotten to add a lot to my stash. I've decided to make myself a capelet, and I'm already a third of the way done, despite only having worked on it a few times over the month. I'm using the new O'Go yarn from Bernat, and it's a pretty nice format aside from the fact that you can only go through the skein one way. I also got yarn to make something for a friend . . . which may be a Christmas present, so this is officially the earliest I've done anything regarding Christmas gift acquisition.
  • Also — this is technically a February thing, but it was on the first, so it's fine — I had my first Connect Group meeting with more than one other person! So that was fun! People seemed to enjoy it, so hopefully we'll continue to have more than just me and one other person.
  • And, of course, we have D&D adventures! In one campaign, we've spent the month preparing for the first big boss fight we've had in a while. We've literally traveled to another plane to take this being on, and we've pulled together a ton of our allies . . . it's exciting, y'all. In addition, some of the members of the Underground are getting together to do monthly one-shots, and we had our first one about a week ago! I ended up playing a Knowledge Domain cleric with a fantasy!German accent, and she was pretty fun . . . though I'm going to have to get used to being squishy after having played a paladin so long. It's weird going from 84 HP to only 31, y'all.

February Plans

  • First things first: I need to finish editing Mask of Scarlet. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to power through that this weekend and get it to betas at the start of next week; that may or may not be reasonable depending on how accurate my memories of the second half being mostly clean are.
  • Also, as I already mentioned, I have a cover reveal for Mask of Scarlet on Wednesday! So I'm hyped for that!
  • Back to the writing: once I finish MoS, I want to give myself a day or two off, and then I have my Super Secret Mystery Project to attempt. Unless I call it off . . . but I don't want to do that without giving it a fair shot, especially because I want to take some time and write something that's not Bastian Dennel, PI. (Don't panic — I love Bastian, and I'm not leaving for good. But I do need to shake things up every now and then.)
  • I also need to write the next Defenders of Serys adventure, but not immediately — I have enough material for another two or three sessions, and I also don't know what the next adventure is going to be. On the upside, I know the two most likely possibilities, and of those two, one is building off an existing story, and the other will be pretty straightforward. So it won't be the end of the world if I have to hurry to get it written. (What really does need to get done soon is the map for the final combat . . . which is sort of going to be five maps in one, so I should probably get cracking on that.)
  • Outside of writing and writing-adjacent activities . . . there's actually not much. This month's photo competition theme is street photography, which I probably won't do much for — it's too cold for many people to be out and about, and I don't have time to go find them anyway.
  • At work, we're already starting to gear up for Lent and Holy Week — two of my big projects this past week were both connected to Lent, and the assistant pastor is putting together stuff for the Good Friday service (which will involve a lot of graphics work on my part), and . . . yeah. That'll undoubtedly continue through February.
  • I'm also really hoping that February will be the month that I make Diamond League in Duolingo. I'm not actually competitive about this, but I am a completionist, and one of the only achievements left for me to get is to get the #1 spot in Diamond League. I have a plan of how to get that spot . . . but I have to get into that category first, and that's the struggle.

How was your January? Any exciting plans for February? How are your New Year's goals or resolutions going (if you set any)? Have any fun projects going? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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