Friday, March 3, 2023

February 2023 Doings!

February is over at last — thank goodness. February is rarely as bad a month as I think it'll be, but it's also never the best month, and I tend to be generally more tired and irritable during this month than most of the rest of the year, even when I actively work to get rest and keep a good attitude. But! February is over, spring begins this month, and I am actively ignoring my sister's predictions that we'll have a cold snap and possibly snow in the next month or two.


  • This has been a pretty productive writing month! I spent most of my writing time working on my semi-secret selkie story, which has a current wordcount of about 25K and a good bit of story left to go. I mentioned this project in my recent Taleweaver's Desk post, but if you missed that: the semi-secret selkie story is a roles-reversed Little Mermaid story, but, you know, with selkies instead of mermaids because selkies are infinitely cooler and I've loved them ever since I was eight-ish and discovered their existence in one of the Magic Treehouse books. And now I get to write about them! It's delightful.
  • My other main writing project was, of course, my D&D campaign. I didn't get as much done on this one as I wanted, since other things ended up taking up a lot of time, but I was able to have this month's sessions prepped on time, plus one more session's worth of material that I thought I'd use but ended up not needing.
  • The other reason I didn't do more D&D prep is that the party is about to hit Pelennor Fields . . . which means that we're also at one of the two points where the incident that started this whole LOTR adventure (the party preventing Boromir's death and Merry and Pippin's capture) has a greater impact on how the story goes. So I've been trying to work out what's going on with Gondor, specifically with Denethor and Faramir, since Boromir's still alive. It's been an interesting thing to think through, to be sure.


  • So, remember how I decided to read the entire City Between series back in January? Yeah. I stand by that as an excellent decision, but it did result in two more questionable corollary decisions . . .
  • The first of those decisions was following City Between up with Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Neverwhere is also a good book, but as a chaser for W.R. Gingell's magnificent series, well . . . it pales a bit. The quality of writing and language is technically a bit better, but the themes of City Between are, I think, superior — and as main characters go, Pet is decidedly preferable to Richard.
  • The second questionable decision was not so much a willful choice as a series of non-decisions, which is to say that I left off reading On Earth As It Is in Hell until kind of the last minute. I posted my review of the book a couple weeks ago, so I won't rehash those here, but in general, I thought it was a good conclusion to the series, and I enjoyed the fact that it was very family-centric, though there were a couple things I thought could have been done better.
  • Besides On Earth As It Is in Hell, I also checked a few more new releases off my to-be-read list! I started A Whisker Behind, the first City Between spinoff, on the very day it released, and I very much enjoyed it. Athelas is one of my top three favorite characters from the original series, so I was pleased to see him again and to get back to the world of Between and Behind. The vibe of the story with him at the helm is rather different than the vibe of City Between, but not at all in a bad way.
  • In addition, I read Moira's Pen, a book of short stories from the world of The Queen's Thief, and Mysteries of Thorn Manor, a sequel novella to Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. Both were excellent; Moira's Pen had more new stories than I expected, and Thorn Manor was just a lot of fun. I love Nathaniel and Elizabeth's dynamic, and now I kind of want to reread Sorcery. Not that I have time for that . . .
  • My final new read of the month was How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery. This was my sole Blind Date read for the month — by the time I got to my library, the selection of blind date books was a bit abysmal, and every single one of the speculative fiction reads remaining had either "horror" or "LBGTQ+" as a defining characteristic, or else was something that I could easily identify as a book I'd read and didn't care to reread at the moment. So, I fell back on "Memoir, Animals, Nature, Science." The resulting book was an enjoyable read and reasonably light. I don't think it's something I'd revisit over and over again, but I'd probably consider rereading it in the future if I came across it again.
  • Finally, we have the rereads. I've been rereading The Fellowship of the Ring via email subscription since last September, and that finished at the end of February. I also reread The Last Battle because I didn't get to it last summer and I was, at the time, extremely stressed and in need of something familiar and comforting. I know, one would not think that the end of a world would be comforting, but as it turns out, a reminder that all will one day be set right is, in fact, extremely helpful when one is stressed. Also, it's Narnia.
  • Oh, and I reread Blood in the Snow because I wanted to remind myself of how particular bits went. It was enjoyable, and I was pleased to find that I still enjoyed it. Alas that I cannot get back to actually writing in that world for a while yet . . .


  • I said at the start of the year that I wanted to start doing a better job of tracking what I was watching, in the same way that I was tracking what I was reading with a Google Form, and I feel like it's been helpful. If nothing else, I have a useful record that I can go back and look at without just having to guess.
  • Not that I've had much to track, of course. Just a couple more episodes of Leverage Season 2, specifically "The Tap-Out Job" and "The Order 23 Job," both of which I really enjoyed. "The Tap-Out Job" was very Eliot-centric, and Eliot is high-key my favorite character in the show. And then "The Order 23 Job" was just exciting and twisty and had a brilliant con and so much going on that all came together brilliantly in the end . . . and also an Eliot subplot that made me quite happy. It was great.


  • For being the shortest month of the year, February is awfully long. You know what I mean?
  • Work this month was very busy — you would think that not much would happen in February, since it's usually cold and grey, but there were actually a fair number of projects and events. The month started with the Lenten newsletter — a project that I enjoy, but which takes a good bit of time — and ended with rapidly designing branding for a new workshop series so we could start promoting it on time. And in between were Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent . . . which is a two-service, two-bulletin week that happened to also fall on a short week. And I didn't actually realize this until near the end of the week before, which meant that I didn't work ahead as much as I should have. So, yeah. That was stressful.
  • This month was also the start of the Big Thing I’m Not Talking About Yet . . . which I'm sort of talking about now but am still not going to properly name because I've had one good week in it (the week of Valentine's Day), one flat-out awful, actual-tears-and-crisis-of-identity-and-self-worth week (the week of Ash Wednesday), and one week that's been half neutral and half emotional remnants from the bad week. So, I'm going to wait one more month, and in my March Doings I will either give proper details on what's up (because the bad week turned out to be a fluke) or inform y'all that it is a Thing Which Shall No More Be Spoken Of (because the bad week was the standard and what I am going to get out of it is not worth multiple years of dealing with . . . that).
  • On a more cheerful note, I finally acquired a treadmill desk! I mentioned towards the start of the year that I wanted to find ways to exercise while doing other things that aren't just watching shows, which mainly means writing/blogging/browsing the internet, and the most effective way to do that seemed to be acquiring a desk attachment for the treadmill. I've used it on and off since getting it, and I'm pretty happy with it. I haven't tried novel-writing while walking yet, but I've written other things with a fair bit of success. I don't think I could edit or do anything polished — not until I'm more practiced, at least — but for drafting, it works quite well.
  • I also got a new desk chair, which is very exciting — seriously, it is. I've spent most of my life using either spare dining room chairs or, most recently, my mom's old desk chair, and they all worked, but they tended to be lacking in the area of back support. And then last month, a review program I'm in had a really nice desk chair available for request, so I snatched it up, and it is so comfy. It reclines, y'all. So when I've been sitting long enough that my back is starting to hurt, I can take my hands off the keyboard and lean back, and it's so nice. Of course, it also has proper back support, so that helps.
  • What else? We did get snow on the first day of the month, but only briefly, and not enough for many, if any, schools to cancel — which, given our area, shows just how little it was. If that's the only snow we get, I will not complain. (On the other hand, if we do get more snow, I'd like just enough that I get a day off of work, please and thank you very much.)
  • Oh! I did more embroidery! February is National Embroidery Month, so I decided to try my hand at embroidering script, since I want to eventually create some pieces using song lyrics and book references. The pattern I used is neither a song lyric nor a book reference, however, because I wanted to make sure my first attempt was with something that an expert had already tested and knew could turn out well. I'm pleased with the end result (pictured at the start of this section); I just have to wash out the stabilizer and figure out what I want to do with it now. I'm hoping to do something that can be hung or displayed, but I'm not sure I left quite enough on the edges to keep in a hoop long-term. I'll figure something out, though.

March Plans

  • March is shaping up to be another busy month, that much is certain.
  • On the upside, my sister will be home for part of it! Only for a week — for spring break — but I'm excited to see her again.
  • I would like to finish the Semi-Secret Selkie Project in March; at the very least, I need to be mostly done with it by the end of the month. It's kind of looking like it might be longer than I originally intended it to be. (Whoops . . .) And, of course, I'll still have D&D writing to do.
  • Work will also be busy because Easter is coming, and that always has a host of associated events and activities. It should be less stressful than last year, though, since I won't have fourteen banners and a devotional book to design and either make or order! (That's not a complaint; it was an exciting project, and I liked getting to apply my book design skills. But it was a lot at times.)
  • On the reading front, the second Miss Dark book is coming soon, and I'm on the list for an ARC — very excited for that! Otherwise, I'll either continue playing catch up or get distracted by rereading Lockwood & Co because half my internet social circles are talking about the new show and, in so doing, both rousing my curiosity and making me miss the characters. I don't have Netflix (and also don't have time to add ANOTHER show), so rereading the books may be my best option. Oh, and I acquired more Brother Cadfael Chronicles, so I may read some of those. We'll see.
  • That should be everything worth mentioning. I have some other plans regarding baking and a few thoughts about what craft project I want to work on, and, of course, the Big Thing continues, but this post is long enough as it is, so I'll leave things where they are.

How was your February? Anything you're looking forward to in March? Are you ready for spring? Have you ever had the experience of enjoying a book less (or more) than usual because of what you read directly before it? Do you think The Last Battle can be a comfort read? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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