Friday, July 29, 2022

July 2022 Doings!


This was SUCH a good month, y'all. It was also a very busy month, which meant I spent a fair bit of it stressed, but still, SO GOOD. Am I partially saying that because I just got back from Realm Makers and I'm still really happy about how it went? Sure. But there were plenty of other reasons to be pleased with my July as well. That said, we're going to do things a little out of order and start with the Life section, since that's where all the exciting news is.


  • But first . . .
  • This month was kind of interesting in that I had something going on pretty much every weekend (and also that I didn't have a single full workweek all month). Oddly enough, Independence Day weekend was the quietest weekend of the month. I spent most of it working on various crafting projects in preparation for Realm Makers, though I did get a break Friday evening to watch our town's fireworks. They were being set off from the park right behind our house, so we just walked down the road until we found a spot where the treeline was a little lower and watched from there without having to deal with crowds.
  • The next weekend, my grandpa came down to visit for the weekend, which was fun, and we had the first of a series of livestream-related tech issues at work, which was objectively not. (Side note, if anyone has any idea what could cause a livestreaming system to automatically start streaming with no outside input and with no stream having been scheduled, I would dearly love to know.) Still, it was a good weekend on the whole.
  • Then we got down to one-week-out-from-Realm Makers, and everything kicked into high gear as I finished all my final prep, in between D&D sessions (featuring one party's inability to roll anywhere in the double-digits on persuasion) and my sister's roommate coming over for board games and ginger beer, and another set of livestreaming problem spread over the course of the week. I did not get as much sleep that week as I probably should've, but I did get everything finished, and I even managed to do some writing.
  • And then.
  • And then.
  • So, yeah. Realm Makers was such a great experience, even if there was a hiccup or two in there. I roomed with the lovely Wyn Estelle Owens, which was a pleasure, and also made part of the trip up and back with her, and I got to meet Kendra E. Ardnek and several other Arista Challenge authors and other writers who I know online in person. (Side note: Kendra in real life is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from her online persona, just slightly shorter.) Wyn and Kendra also introduced me to some of their friends, and through friends of friends I discovered that there's a group of Realmies who live near me and occasionally meet up, so that's awesome. And, of course, I was able to meet some of the authors whose work I've read and loved and who, in some respects, were part of the reason I started writing and writing the type of stories I do in the first place — people like Wayne Thomas Batson, Jill Williamson, and Gillian Bronte Adams, all three of whom were absolutely lovely and kind and just . . . I don't know how else to say it except that, talking to them, you can tell why they write what they do and specifically why they write the types of characters they do. It was all very wonderful and encouraging, and I figured out pretty fast why the first keynote speaker (Tosca Lee!) emphasized a lot the relationships you build at events like this and elsewhere. As it turns out, the real treasure really is the friends you make along the way.
  • (Also, the very first night we were there, while we were eating dinner, I was watching the line at the counter and freaking out because! there's Gillian Bronte Adams! there's Jill Williamson! there's Nadine Brandes! ahhhhhhhhhh! the cool authors are here! And then I ended up in front of Gillian while waiting in line for the Awards Banquet, though by that point I'd met her a couple of times already with varying levels of excitement versus coherent intelligence on my part.)
  • It wasn't just meeting people that made Realm Makers so cool, though. I very much enjoyed the actual sessions, and I feel like I learned a lot — or, at least, I learned what I needed to in order to make the stories I'm currently writing and the ones that I'm going to write better. I picked Donald Maass's The Emotional Craft of Fiction series for my Continuing Sessions track (three 2-hour sessions spread over two days), and I think that was a very good choice; his advice, combined with some of what Tosca Lee said in her talk on keeping readers reading past midnight will, I think, help me get out of the little bit of a slump I'd run into with my current draft. I also got to sit in on both of Carla Hoch's classes, which were super fun . . . though I did get a little frustrated with some of her comments related to particular historical clothing items and whether or not you could move or fight in them. She reminds me of Marisha Ray, in a good way.
  • I did manage to cosplay two of the three days of the conference. We got checked in too late for me to throw on the cosplay I had planned for the first evening, which was probably just as well — it involved collapsing daggers, and I learned after arrival that the no-weapons ban was actually nothing-that-looks-like-weapons, so . . . yeah. But I spent Friday dressed as Petra from the Rizkaland Legends, and then for the Awards Banquet, I changed into my take on Ailsa from The Dark King's Curse. I was very pleased with how both of those cosplays came off, though I'm not sure anyone but their authors recognized them. Then, on Saturday, I did a very low-key cosplay of Pet from The City Between, which did get recognized by one person and commented on by a few others. I think next time I go, I'll skip the daytime cosplay and just do something for the Awards Banquet and maybe the Book Festival, but it was fun to do this year.
  • Speaking of the Awards Banquet, that was very cool. It was rather loud, which made conversation hard, but I enjoyed seeing everyone in their various costumes and cosplays. And, of course, it was exciting to see the Realm Awards get presented. I was delighted when Gillian won Book of the Year, and I was also super excited that H.L. Burke won an award (especially since I'd just started reading the series that the winning book was in). And then after the Banquet, Wyn, Kendra, and I headed off to the Hospitality Suite, where I got to eat more food (though not much more — the Banquet food was fancy, but it was also quite filling), meet a couple of Texan Realmies and a UK Realmie, and discover the game of Guillotine, in which you play as executioners in the French Revolution trying to get the most high-profile executions. That was fun.
  • And then, of course, Sunday came, and everyone had to head back home. That drive was a bit more tiring than the one up, for some reason — maybe because I was already tired? In any case, I was glad of my decision to take Monday off so I'd have some recovery time.
  • But now things are quiet again, and I'm settling into preparations for newsletter and Stewardship and more signage stuff at work and trying to get all the lingering tech issues sorted out, and I can get my focus back on writing my stories. Speaking of . . .


  • I don't remember where I left off on Bastian Dennel, PI #4, but at the moment, I'm finishing up Chapter 8 and about to start Chapter 9. Progress is slow, but steady, and given that I've been balancing SO MUCH this month, I'm happy with that.
  • I do think I'm going to have to do something more to make Bastian's life difficult, though. I thought what I had planned would be enough, but . . . honestly, he's taking it too easily. I'm not entirely sure what that's going to look like but I'll figure it out. Hopefully it won't require that I go back and rewrite all I've done, though I suppose if I'm going to scrap things, it'd be better that I do it sooner than later . . . We'll figure it out.
  • On the Through a Shattered Glass side, I've received most of the feedback I was expecting, and I've gone through it and gotten an idea what I need to adjust. In general, everyone seems to like it, so that's good.
  • All Realm Makers swag came out pretty well, though I didn't give away half as much as I wanted to. I'm trying to decide what I want to do with the remainder — I could send it out by mail, or I could just save it for another event. I'm not sure.


  • This was a somewhat eclectic reading month: one part mood-read, one part reading for summer reading programs, and one part reading based on particular occasions.
  • The highlight of the month was the release of Castle & Key, the latest (and possibly last) of W.R. Gingell's Two Monarchies series. This one was very much in the vein of Masque, blending Gothic fiction like Jane Eyre with the tale of Bluebeard, and while I didn't love it quite as much as Masque, it was still excellent. Susan is thoroughly practical, pleasantly determined, and unrelentingly inquisitive, and I love her.
  • Other bright spots: Fool Moon, the second Dresden Chronicles mystery, was a decided improvement over Storm Front, and it had less Content, though there were still a couple pages I had to skip over. My reread of Castaways of the Flying Dutchman and The Angel's Command was also fun, though I think my opinion of which I prefer has flipped — Angel used to be my favorite of the trilogy, but I think it might be Castaways now. And I finally started reading H.L. Burke's Supervillain Rehabilitation Project series because I wanted to read a Realmie book at Realm Makers, and I'm thoroughly enjoying that. It's the superhero blend of action and slice-of-life we've always wanted.
  • I also read another volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, in which I got a few answers but also many more questions. (I also met a friend's second-favorite character, though, so that's cool.)
  • Things I Learned from Knitting is another Stephanie Pearl-McPhee memoir. I definitely preferred Free-Range Knitter, but this one was good too.
  • The disappointment of the month was The Blue Salt Road, which I picked up on a whim because of selkies and lyrical writing on the first page, but ended up frustrated with because the ending leans more bitter than sweet. It's not a bad book, and others may like it better than I, but yeah.


  • So, if I had a nickle for every time my family has spent Independence Day watching a movie about Russian or Russian-adjacent Jews that involves a pogrom and a metaphorically and/or narratively resonant fiddle, I'd have two nickles. Which isn't a lot, but it's kind of weird that it happened twice.
  • This year's movie was Fiddler on the Roof, which was very good, but won't be making my favorites list. I'm glad I watched it once, but I don't expect I'll watch it again in the near future.
  • I didn't have a lot of time to watch stuff on my own, but I did watch a bit more of Critical Role Campaign 2 (I'm two-thirds of the way through Episode 78, still enjoying it) and the Familiar Problem one-shot (because I was hoping to run my own Familiar Problem session at Realm Makers; alas, I didn't finish my prep for that in time). I also got in another couple episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and I can see why people rave about the show. (I also got to have a nice long conversation with Wyn about FMA, both anime and manga, on the way up to Realm Makers, so that was fun.)
  • (Oh, and my family watched Singing in the Rain and Hello Dolly while my grandpa was here, but my thoughts haven't changed on either movie, so this note is mostly for reference by future-me.)

August Plans

  • I don't have a lot of plans for August, but I hope it's a quiet month. I know that we're thinking that we'll visit some family at one point during August, but otherwise, I don't know of anything big happening.
  • I know that I need to make some serious progress on both Bastian Dennel #4 and TaSG edits, so I expect that those projects will take up most of my free time. I'd also like to get back on track with exercise — that was one of the many things I kind of let slip over the last few months.
  • And I want to make sure I get in at least one more game of Sentinels with my sister before she heads back to college in the second half of the month.
  • But yeah. I'm also hoping and praying for no more tech issues at work — I've had my fill in July!

How was your July? Any exciting plans for August? Were you at Realm Makers (and if so, what was your favorite part)? What do you think I should do with my leftover book swag? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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