Friday, April 28, 2023

April 2023 Doings!

Hello, all! April is over (well, almost), and so is my blogging hiatus. As I expected, this has been a very busy, tiring month. A good month, to be sure, but still. I have had far too many lates and earlies, as Bastian would put it, for my taste, and too many days in which I was running behind the schedule of when I wanted to. I almost thought I was going to have to push this post until next Friday, which would've been a week later than it should've run, but I managed to find enough spare time at the last minute to get it up. So, let's get on with the Doings!


  • I have gotten tragically little creative writing done this month — only about 12,000 words, which is less than half of my average in the previous several months. There's been some weeks when I haven't been able to touch my manuscript more than once, if I got to touch it at all. (The week of the 16th, the only reasons I got to do any creative writing of any kind was that I skipped out on a D&D session that I was going to be late to anyway, and then I needed to do prep for a session in my campaign.) On the upside, I've generally been pleased with what I did write, so . . . there's that.
  • (Needless to say, the fact that I haven't been able to do as much creative writing at a time when I very much want to be writing has not helped my stress levels at all.)
  • What was I doing instead of writing? Grad school stuff. Which is actually writing-adjacent, so I suppose I may as well talk about it now instead of in the Life section. I spent most of this month working on my final project for my second grad school class. If you follow me on Facebook or you share a Discord server with me, you're probably already aware of this project: doing research into a possible reason why some writers prefer to write to music and why some writers prefer silence and then writing that research into a series of blog posts. This was an interesting project, and I've wanted to look into it for several years, but I haven't had a reason to until now. Unfortunately, it was also extremely time-consuming — and, yes, I knew going in that these things take time, but I actually got through a whole class before this without sacrificing significant amounts of writing time. Anyway, I finally got my rough draft done this past Wednesday (three days after I wanted to have it finished), so now at least I get a semi-break while I wait for peer review . . .
  • Further delaying the research project was another smaller assignment for the same class: writing a blog post about how to do research in one's field. I opted to write about how I research for worldbuilding, so that was another technically-fun-but-time-consuming task. On the upside, once this class is over, I'll have four weeks' worth of blog posts to share over the summer! 
  • The D&D campaign I run didn't meet much this month — which, surprisingly, was more due to other peoples' schedules than mine. We only had two sessions, one of which was . . . not the best, as everyone (including me) was tired. The second session, though, was really fun; we actually had our full group for the first time in ages, and people got pretty into the roleplay. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting more of that once peoples' schedules ease up.


  • I predicted in my last Doings! post that this month would be mostly rereads and mood reads, and what do you know? I was absolutely right.
  • I did finish The Shepherd's Crown, which I was in the middle of last month, and I continue to feel generally meh about it. Was it a good book? Sure. Was it a fairly good ending to the Discworld series? Again, sure. Was it anywhere close to being one of my favorites in the series? Not remotely.
  • As far as new books that I read entirely this month go, The Orb and the Airship was absolutely the best. I got an early copy because I backed the Kickstarter, and that was so very worth it. This is such a wonderful blend of steampunk and epic fantasy, and I loved the characters (especially Marik and Beren) and the storyline. I can't wait to read the rest! For those who didn't back the Kickstarter, you can currently preorder it in either ebook or hardcover from Amazon. I 100% recommend doing that, if you couldn't tell.
  • Another excellent new read was Miss Percy's Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons, which is one part Austen, one part fantasy, and all parts excellent. A Regency-era spinster unknowingly inherits a dragon egg from her great-uncle; hijinks ensue; it's excellent. Slow-paced, but still with enough to intrigue and keep me turning the pages, and the narration is full of self-aware, Princess-Bride-esque humor.
  • My final new-to-me read was The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass. This is the book version of the workshop series I did at last year's Realm Makers conference, and I appreciated the opportunity to revisit what I'd learned. I probably would've appreciated it more if I hadn't been so tired and if I could've had more opportunity to put the principles in the book into practice, but . . . oh well.
  • I'm not really going to go into my rereads, save to say that The Secret Garden is still delightful for adults (as the best books are), and I am strongly tempted to combine it with some fairytales and write a retelling of it. I won't be doing so soon, but . . . sometime.


  • (Yes, we skipped a section because I didn't watch anything noteworthy this month, even if you set the bar for "noteworthy" pretty much on the ground.)
  • The month obviously started with Holy Week, which was . . .  a lot. Even with my best efforts to get stuff done in advance, and even with getting some extra time off on Thursday, it was a busy, tiring week. But it ended well — I got to actually see the Stations of the Cross that I worked so hard on last year, our church's Easter service was good, and Easter lunch with our Bible study was very fun. I made a coconut cake, and that turned out quite delicious if I do say so myself!
  • With the onset of spring comes the time to plant, and so I have acquired more herbs to join my rosemary and thyme plants from last year. This year I got two more basil plants (since the one I had last year died over the winter — not surprising), as well as a mint and a parsley. I potted all of them last weekend, and I'm hoping that they do all right. The basil seems fine, but I'm a bit worried about the parsley (which didn't have very well-developed roots, though it looked great up top) and the mint (which lost a lot of leaves before I could get it in a real pot, though its roots seem fine). We'll see how things go. I do hope it warms up properly again soon so I can leave them outside . . .
  • On the crafting front, I finished my Dark King's Curse fanart embroidery (except for removing the stabilizer and mounting it in something for display), but I was running low on embroidery floss and didn't have time to get to the store, so I switched back to the shrug I'm crocheting. That's working up fairly fast, but it's also getting large enough that taking it anywhere will become very awkward very soon.
  • Finally, we have D&D — the campaign I play in has had a few sessions this month, which were all . . . interesting. Our party was split until the most recent session, with our sorcerer off scoping out an enemy's headquarters and the rest of the group trying to rescue my character's sister and the sister's adventuring party. The rescue did succeed, but storms was it a struggle at times. Happily, we're all back together now and prepared to storm a fiend's hideout (well, one of his hideouts) and maybe do a little, ah, social reorganization in the country where said hideout is located. And by that I mean that we need to help a lot of halfling farmers deal with the people who are oppressing and taking advantage of them. It's definitely going to be an interesting challenge.
  • Since I already discussed grad school stuff in the Writing section, that about covers it. This has been a busy month, as I said, but it's mostly been busy with the same things over and over again.

May Plans

  • My grad school class ends in the second week of May, so next month should actually be a lot less stressful.
  • That said, I still do anticipate a full month. Just, you know, full of more fun things.
  • The big event of the month is likely to be my sister's graduation on the first weekend in May. I am so proud of and excited for her — she's a mechanical engineer, so not an easy program, but she's done and finished well, and I know she really enjoyed most of her studies. I'm looking forward to going up to Ohio to celebrate with her and also to have her back home for one more summer. (I'm also hoping to visit some friends while I'm in Ohio, so that will also be fun if it works out.)
  • I'm also looking forward to going back to the local Viking Festival the weekend after my sister's graduation. My sister and I went last year, and it was fun — basically a very small viking-themed Ren Fest-ish event. I'm sure it'll be fun this year as well, and we may end up doing something with a friend afterwards, so that'll be a good day. We may also try to attend the Virginia Renaissance Faire at some point, since it's mostly in May and tickets are actually pretty cheap, but we'll see how that works out.
  • Of course, since I'll be done with grad school for the summer, and since I need to have my Selkie Story finished (or nearly so) by the end of the month, I also plan to dive back into writing and get a lot done. And once the Selkie Story is drafted, it'll be back to work on Bastian Dennel, PI Book 4. Plus, the group I run is close to wrapping up our LotR D&D adventure, which means I'll need to prep for the next adventure after that. (I'd also like to work on some one-shot ideas I have . . . but only if I end up with a bunch of extra time somehow.)
  • At work, I expect things will continue as they have been for the last couple weeks since Easter. Summer is often a somewhat quieter time for me, at least compared to Lent and Advent, and if that continues to be the case, I will not complain!

How was your April? What are you looking forward to in May? How did you celebrate Easter (if you celebrated)? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!