Friday, March 31, 2023

March 2023 Doings!

Hello, everyone! Spring is officially here, huzzah! And March is somehow at an end, which means it's time for a new Doings! post. But before we get into the body of the post, I have a quick housekeeping announcement: I will be taking a hiatus from blogging for the month of April. This isn't for Camp NaNoWriMo (though I will be writing a lot); I just have a lot on my plate, and I know it'll be a busy month. So, I'm taking a little blogging break while I can.


  • My most exciting writing news of the month: as some of you may remember, back in January, I wrote and submitted a story for the Fellowship of Fantasy's magical dogs anthology. You may also recall that I was concerned about whether or not the editors would go for it . . . but as it turns out, they did go for it, and at the start of March, I got an email saying that my story, "Grim Guardian," had been accepted into the anthology! As you might expect, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the collection, and I can't wait to be able to share more about the story with y'all. There's going to be a cover reveal in early May, so keep your eyes out for that.
  • In other news, I once again spent my month primarily focused, writing-wise, on my semi-secret selkie Little Mermaid story. Progress on this has been slower than I'd like, due to stress, technology problems, other demands on my time, and the fact that I was trying to muddle through a gap in my outline. There were several weeks this month when I felt like I was barely writing anything. Still, words are going on the page, and I'm pleased with enough of them that I'm not too discouraged.
  • On the D&D front, I did finally solve my Pelennor Fields/"What's going on with Gondor & Denethor" problem, thanks in no small part to some help from various friends. I'm happy with where I ended up on that, though we'll have to see how things actually play out. Running the actual battle of Pelennor Fields went well, and we actually got to play it on March 25 (which Lord of the Rings fans will know is a significant day) — it's not quite as cool as actually finishing the LOTR story in that session would've been, but I'll take what I can get.


  • This month was a mixed bag in many ways, but it was a really good reading month. It also involved a lot of rereads; I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether or not those things are connected.
  • But first, the things that weren't rereads! Dark Clouds by Suzannah Rowntree was definitely the highlight here. I reviewed the book last week, but in short, it was an absolute delight, especially if you're an enjoyer of Leverage, Grand Duke Vasily (or characters of his particular type), or both. Ten out of ten, will look forward to rereading.
  • My other few new-to-me reads were ok, but not nearly as memorable. The Maiden Ship had some fun seafaring adventure to it, but didn't particularly wow me; I'm undecided about whether or not I'll continue the series. I also read another volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, which I think I would have enjoyed more had it not been so long since I read the previous installment. Finally, I started one Pratchett read for March Magics: The Shepherd's Crown, the final Discworld book and one of the only two books in the series I hadn't read. At this point, I'm not quite halfway through and am having decidedly mixed feelings. The first several chapters felt extremely under-polished, though the story picked up around Chapter 6 or 7. On one hand, it's not uncommon for me to be iffy about a Pratchett book in the beginning but quite pleased with it by the end. On the other hand, I've been a little meh about all the Discworld books past Making Money. So . . . we'll see.
  • Moving on, we have abundant rereads! My favorite of these was, unsurprisingly, The Goblin Emperor, which I technically read because I wanted to study how the author used some particular elements of language as worldbuilding, and not because I've been itching to reread it since Christmas . . . but I definitely was not disappointed by it the second time around. And I still absolutely love Maia.
  • I also enjoyed rereading the Lockwood & Co series. While I haven't watched the show (it's on Netflix, which I'm not interested in paying for), I have seen a lot of fandom posts from people who have seen the show and decided to just revisit the story in the way that was available to me. I have to say, the last two books are much more enjoyable when you read the full series straight in a row and don't have to try to remember what people are talking about.
  • As for my remaining rereads, I'm still reading The Lord of the Rings via email newsletter, which has been both enjoyable and helpful for D&D writing. It was also a bit interesting because I had about a week when I was technically reading The Two Towers and The Return of the King at the same time, but at this point, Two Towers is finished, and Return of the King is nearly so. And I also reread Mixed Magics towards the beginning of the month because I needed something short and I hadn't read it in a while. I have to say, I basically did not remember anything about any of the stories in it, but that wasn't a terrible thing.


  • Not a lot for this category, but I did finally watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so that was fun! Out of the two Indiana Jones movies I've watched (I skipped 2 and don't know if I'll watch 4), this one was definitely my favorite. It has adventure, puzzles, traps, near-death experiences, villains you're pleased to see fail, and a Grail Quest — what else could you ask for? And, as the cherry on top, instead of focusing on romance as the primary side plot, we have a father-and-son relationship to anchor the human side of the story. It's great. And, yes, everyone else already knew this, but the fact that I'm very late to the party doesn't mean I'm not going to enjoy the party.
  • And . . . yeah. That's pretty much it. I wanted to watch more Leverage, but every time I thought I was going to have time, something else either took longer than expected or otherwise got in the way. Alas.


  • For a few months now, I've been referencing a Big Thing I’m Not Talking About Yet and promising that I'll actually tell y'all what it is in the next Doings post, mostly because I wasn't sure if the thing was going to work out. But at this point, I think it is going to work without killing either me or my writing career, which means I'm not going to put y'all off another month and will instead say: I have started grad school, specifically an online master's program in Professional Writing.
  • I was supposed to start in January, but I wanted to buy some extra writing time and the university I'm doing the program through has three sub-terms per semester (with the middle one overlapping the other two), so I decided to push things back and start in February instead. And then, as mentioned in my February Doings, I had one good well, one awful week, and one neutral-ish week. Thankfully, the awful week was more or less a fluke — a combination of unclear instructions and outside stressors — and the only really bad week I've had since was the one in which tech issues struck the week of my largest project for my first class — which also happened to be the first week in which I had overlapping classes. But, again, that was a combination of outside stress and uncertainty about how to approach a particular assignment, and to be frank, it wouldn't have been a good week even if I only had writing and work on my plate. So, yes. This is a thing that's happening, and it's going reasonably well.
  • Ok, what else happened this month? My sister came home for spring break at the start of the month, and getting to see her and hang out with her was fun. She did have a cold for about half the week, so we didn't get to do as much stuff as I might've hoped, but it was still very nice to have her at home for a little while. Then we finished that week by driving up to Pennsylvania to see my grandpa, which was also nice.
  • We also celebrated Pi Day, of course! My mom made spaghetti pie for dinner and apple pie (pictured above) for dessert, and both were absolutely delicious.
  • My adventures in embroidery continue, as I finished the first script-based piece (aside from washing away the stabilizer and figuring out how I want to display the piece) and have started on a second. This new one is a bit of fanart for The Dark King's Curse, and I'm generally pleased with how it's turning out. Once it's finished, I'll probably post a picture, unless I decide to wait until I've made a second version. I have, in the process, learned that I don't like doing stem stitch for lettering and that shorter text is better than longer text, so, yeah.
  • On the baking front, I made a coconut cake for the birthday of one of the pastors at work. It's the special recipe of my former supervisor who retired, and it was also a favorite of that particular pastor, so I was excited to get to share it and see how I did. Thankfully, everyone liked it. (I wasn't worried, to be clear. I made it last year for Easter, so I know it's good. But it's the context, y'know?)
  • On the topic of work, things have definitely been busy there. Most of that is preparation for Holy Week, but we've also been adjusting the way we do some things and introducing some new event types, so that's been interesting. This has also been a month of tech troubles, some of which fell at the same time as my personal technology problems, so that's not been ideal. But, you know, busy is better than bored, and I've had the opportunity to work on some fun projects and pieces, so I'm not complaining.
  • Oh, and D&D is going! In the campaign I've been in since I was in college, the group is rediscovering how much we struggle when a particular character (the sorcerer, also our de-facto leader by virtue of being good at coming up with plans) isn't around, as we've split the party to scope out an enemy's headquarters and rescue my character's sister at the same time. I've also been playing in another once-a-month campaign through my library, which has been interesting. I'm playing a Tabaxi conjuration wizard, and she's fun, though I'm still adjusting to the dynamic of the new group.
  • Otherwise, I've mostly been appreciating the warmer weather (even if I'm not spending much time outside) and all the flowers blooming in our yard. I've been able to skip a coat in favor of just a fleece jacket quite a few days this month, so I am quite pleased with that. (And I will be more pleased still once I can get down to a cardigan and short sleeves!)

April Plans

  • The first week of Easter is Holy Week, which will be very busy. Not as busy as last year, thank goodness, but still not a week in which I anticipate having much downtime, especially since I also have multiple social events (a Mid-Atlantic Realm Writers meeting and a Connect Group meeting) happening in the evening during that week. Plus, it's the last week in which I'll have overlapping grad school classes. After Holy Week, though, I think things should calm down quite a bit. And I am looking forward to Easter and my Bible study's annual celebration.
  • My creative writing focus will continue to be on my selkie story first and my D&D campaign second, as those have the most pressing deadlines. I'd like to get back to work on BDPI #4 sometime soon, but . . . priorities.
  • I'll also be doing research for my grad school class and writing a paper based on said research. My plan is to investigate a possible aspect of why certain people do and don't like to listen to music or other background noise while writing. This is actually a question that piqued my interest back in 2020, enough so that I ran a survey about it, but I didn't have sufficient motivation to do anything with the results of that survey . . . until now.
  • On the reading front, I suspect it'll be mood reads all the way down. Well, that and catching up on beta reading, on which I am horrendously behind. I do apologize to anyone reading this to whom I owe beta comments — though, in my defense, I've been just a little bit busy.
  • (Side note: I just discovered that my natural inclination is to spell "apologize" the British way, with an "s" instead of a "z." My best guess is that it's caused by the fact that I've been reading a lot of books by British and Aussie writers these last few months?)
  • I think that about covers all the important things. And if I forgot it, well, it probably wasn't that important.

How was your March? What are you looking forward to in April? Would you rather be busy or bored? Also, if you're a Discworld fan, what are your thoughts on the last four books in the series? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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