Friday, June 30, 2023

July 2023 Doings!

Hello, all! Between work, writing, travel, general life stuff, and the fact that my intended blog hiatus ended up being significantly less hiatus-y than intended, June has been a very busy month. Not a bad month, necessarily. Lots of good things have happened this month on all the different fronts, many of which I'm excited to share with y'all. But things have been busy all the same, and I have spent more time sleep-deprived than is necessarily pleasant.


  • I have had a very productive writing month this May, I have to say. I racked up about 28k words on my Selkie Story, which is just about finished with its first draft. It's ended up a lot longer than I originally intended, which is why I'm finishing it so much later than I hoped I would . . . but I'm very pleased with it, and I think it'll be even better once it's fully finished and edited. A lot of those words were written on the road — the lack of consistent internet makes it a little easier to focus, so long drives when I'm the one driving are often pretty productive. (Of course, depending on the trip, the days in the car often have to be productive to make up for days of no writing at all. But still, it's good.)
  • I also spent a fair bit of time this month designing the cover for my Selkie Story, which should be revealed sometime next month. I have to say, I'm super excited to show it off. I had to dust off some parts of my graphic design skill set that I haven't used since college to make it, and I think the result turned out quite well indeed.
  • In addition to my Selkie Story writing, I did a fair bit of D&D writing — 5.7k words worth, to be specific. I finished writing my Middle Earth adventure (finally) and worked more on the next module, which I've been referring to as the Feygate Adventure. I also finished writing a non-D&D adventure that I started working on last year but had to set aside due to other projects taking priority. I got to playtest that one with my group last weekend, when one of our number was on vacation and we didn't want to do our usual campaign, and that was super fun! I'm looking forward to running it again with another friend group soon.
  • The other writing-related news, of course, was the whole business with Uncommon Universes Press closing down and the change of publisher for the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology. That was largely resolved with minimal input from me, thankfully. You can read my blog post about it here for more info.


  • This month involved a lot of revisiting old favorites, as you can probably see — out of the twelve books I read in June, seven of them were rereads. And I'm happy to say that all were delightful, though I knew that they would be. Some, like House of Many Ways and The 13 Clocks, I've read many, many times before (though I haven't read The 13 Clocks since before college). Cinderella Must Die is more recent, but there's never a bad time to throw a W.R. Gingell murder mystery into the mix. And I started a reread of the Ranger's Apprentice series, partially because some online friends kept posting fanart that made me miss the characters and partially because my sister was rereading the series and was talking about it. I will say that I'm very pleased with how well the Ranger's Apprentice series, at least the early books, holds up. The last time I read them was apparently before I was on Goodreads, so it's been a bit. But they're pretty much what I remembered, which is to say, pleasantly clean and easy-to-read adventures that don't go overboard on the romance, and I'm enjoying revisiting Will, Halt, and the rest of these old friends.
  • On the new reads side, I finally finished my last yet-unread Discworld book, Small Gods, and completed the series. I'd procrastinated on this one because I knew it was tackling the topic of religion, and I wasn't sure how much I actually wanted to read it. Having at last gotten around to it, I don't think I'll read it a second time (it had some interesting thoughts in it, but was, on the whole, not as fun as most Discworld books), but the completionist in me is glad to have read it once.
  • I also read two books for the book signing I attended (more on that in a minute): Into the Heartless Wood and Cruel Beauty. Into the Heartless Wood is by the same author as Echo North (which I devoured back in May), and while I preferred Echo, Heartless Wood was also lovely — half Beauty and the Beast, half Little Mermaid, with some very interesting magic and a nice take on a non-human perspective. Cruel Beauty is also Beauty and the Beast, but blended with various Greek myths (notably Pandora and Cupid and Psyche), a little bit of Bluebeard, and, magnificently, Tam Lin. I had mixed feelings about the start, and there was a bit more sexualness in the middle than I normally go in for (though it bothered me less as the couple in question is, y'know, married), but the ending was so lovely (allegorically so, even!) that I couldn't really complain.
  • Moving on: Tide and Scale, I've been reading on and off throughout May and June. It's an anthology of mermaid and mermaid-adjacent stories, and is, as anthologies often are, a bit of a mixed bag. But it does include a Rapunzel retelling by my friend Wyn Estelle Owens, and I loved that one, so that's all that really matters to me.
  • Finally, we have Wraithwood, which I picked up because its sequel is a Realm Awards finalist and I wanted to know if I should pick up a copy. The answer, as it turns out, is an unequivocal yes, abso-storming-lutely. I loved Brinnie and her story, and I heartily applaud the author for avoiding a lot of the tropes in contemporary not-quite-portal fantasy that usually bug me the most. Notably, she managed to provide a good in-world reason why characters refuse to tell the protagonist things, which I love. This is an author who looked at a plot problem and instead of just smoothing over it or handwaving things, saw an opportunity. And to that I say: well done.
  • I am, of course, still reading various classics via email subscription. Notably, I've started Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, which I know nothing about, but which seems promising so far! (I'm about two chapters in at this point.) I am also somewhat regretting my decision to pick up the Moby Dick Whale Weekly subscription, but I started it and so I'll see it through.


  • Not a lot noteworthy in this section other than to say that my sister and I watched a few more episodes of Leverage. We're up to the departure of a certain character (can't say who) and still quite enjoying the show. And I have to say, the episode in which that character departs and the episode right after it may be going on my list of favorite episodes in this show. Both were super fun, even with the emotional bits, and I just really enjoyed watching the team in both cases.


  • This month has, as I've already said, been a busy one — we were either traveling or had something going on almost every weekend.
  • The most exciting trip was midway through the month, when my sister and I trekked up to Ohio so I could visit with my former roommate and attend the W.R. Gingell and Suzannah Rowntree book signing. (It was, for the record, not exclusively their signing, but they were the authors I was primarily going to see.) The signing was, for the record, awesome. I absolutely loved getting to meet some of my very favorite authors (and discovering that they're just as wonderful of people in real life as they seem to be online) — if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably saw my post about the signing and about both Gingell and Rowntree actually recognized my name from our online interactions. I also got to meet up with some online friends and fellow fans while I was there (and introduced them to Bring Your Own Book), which was also lovely.
  • My visit with my roommate was just as lovely as the signing, for the record. Even though I see her on D&D video calls most weeks, I still miss being able to spend time with her in real life. Also, her family had just gotten a new dog, so we got to meet the pup (who is very cute). We also played lots of Sentinels of the Multiverse and, notably, finally attempted the Oblivaeon endgame-type scenario. We lost that one in the last stage, after spending about eight hours playing through it, but I was still impressed with how well the makers set it up. Even though it was a long game, the gameplay varied enough that it didn't drag like I worried it would.
  • Then we got home from that trip, had about four days to recover, and set off for Pennsylvania so we could see my mom and grandpa again. For those curious: my grandpa is still recovering well, even if he really wants to push the limits of what he can do while wearing a neck brace. We're hoping for good news at his next doctor's appointment.
  • Amid all the traveling, I've been doing quite a bit of baking — and cooking, since my mom's not here and my sister and I are mostly trading off that responsibility, but the baking is mostly more exciting. (The exception to the mostly is that I made ham and spaetzel for the first time, which is quite an undertaking because you make the spaetzel from scratch, and it turned out really well.) I tried out a new pretzel roll recipe at the start of the month, and that was very tasty. I also made a lovely Scarborough Faire Sourdough loaf to take up to my grandpa's house, with three out of the four herbs (parsley, rosemary, and sage) taken fresh from my plants. I was very pleased with how that came out. In between, I made shortbread (to give my roommate's family), rolls (for my dad to take to work), and flatbread pizza (also using fresh rosemary and basil pesto from my plants!).
  • All the travel this month means my D&D group hasn't been able to meet much, but the sessions we've had have been fun. Stressful — a lot of people almost dying — but still fun, with some very exciting moments and some excellent roleplay. I also got to join back up with the library D&D group this month, so that was cool. It's a little bit of a struggle because I created a character who's supposed to be very outgoing and action-oriented, hoping that would help me stay involved rather than just being in the background. But because the rest of the group knows each other better than they know me, and because we meet online, it's hard to actually get into character or play my character how I want to play her.
  • On the work front, things keep swinging back and forth between SUPER BUSY and really quiet because no one's in the office. I did get to take pictures of handbells and stained glass windows for the summer handbell concert, though, and that was delightful. I love the church's stained glass windows, and bells are a lovely shape to photograph, and it was just generally a very fun morning, y'know?
  • I did have high hopes of doing more crafting this month, mostly in the direction of costume accessories for Realm Makers. Alas, that was not to be. Aside from working on my embroidery, I did basically no crafting of any kind. Ah well . . . maybe next month. Or, more likely, maybe August.

July Plans

  • Ok, for real this time . . . the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology releases on July 6, just under one week from today! There was a little bit of a hiccup with this caused by Uncommon Universes Press shutting down, but the book is going forward, and there's still time to preorder the ebook if you want to read my short story, "Grim Guardian," or any of the other seven stories included in this anthology. While I haven't been able to do as much as I wanted to with this launch, it's still a thing that's happening!
  • In more exciting news (aka news that has had me internally vibrating with anticipation on and off for literal months): REALM MAKERS! IS A THING! WHERE I WILL BE! My books will ALSO be there, at Kendra E. Ardnek's table (because she is a fabulous person and will be handling my sales). I'll be hanging out at her table as well on and off throughout the conference, between sessions and mingling and such. I'm so hyped, and also my brain cannot entirely believe that it's so close. I'm looking forward to seeing my writer friends (and making new ones), learning from the experts, and the general adventure of it all. And, of course, I'm excited to see the results of the Realm Awards, especially with Through a Shattered Glass in the running.
  • Continuing on the writing front: I'll be working hard this weekend and next week to try to get my Selkie Story fully drafted and in the hands of beta readers before I leave for St. Louis. (I also need to make sure I have beta readers to hand it to . . . that's a task for this weekend.) I'm so close to the end that I can taste it, and I've been daydreaming variations of the climax for about a month now. Once I finish that, I'll return to BDPI #4 and try to get that wrapped up — though I may take the week of Realm Makers off from actively working on any particular story. (Oddly enough, writers' conferences aren't a great place to get actual writing done . . .)
  • Moving on to the rest of my life, we're expecting that my mom will be back home (at least for a while) this month, while my uncle takes a turn helping out my grandpa. I'm very much looking forward to having her back home, but I'm also perpetually paranoid that something will happen to prevent her return . . .
  • As for work, it'll probably be pretty quiet, with the occasional burst of lots of activity. The first part of the month will definitely be busy, since I'll have two short weeks and I'll be working ahead to cover my time out of town. The rest shouldn't be bad. One exciting thing: the kids summer VBS thing is coming up in August, and it's a space theme, which means I'm going to have so much fun designing promo materials. (I've already had fun with the first round of promo. But now I get to have more fun. It's great, and I would like to thank the kids ministry director for her absolutely stellar choice of curriculum, pun entirely intended.)
  • Finally, a word on what to expect around the blogs: I'm still hoping that July will be a semi-hiatus, but my Mid-Year Best Of/Book Roundup posts, various book releases and book news things, and one or two other things I have in mind mean it might be pretty full anyway. At the moment, my plan is to post as my time, energy level, and priority list allows, but not to default to not posting if the post in question isn't time-based.

How was your June? What are you looking forward to in July? Will I see you at Realm Makers? What's the best book signing you've ever been to? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


Friday, June 23, 2023

Summer 2023 Reads

 Hello, everyone! It's officially summer (though for a lot of us, it's felt like summer in one way or another for at least a month or two now), and we all know what that means . . . more books! As usual, I'm here to tell you all about the most exciting books releasing this season — or, at least, the ones I'm most excited about.

Summer 2023 Reads

1. The Orb and the Airship by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (June 16). The Orb and the Airship released just last week, and you may have seen my review of it. If you didn't, you should go check that out — but the short version is that this book is a magnificent and lovely blend of steampunk and epic fantasy, and I love it SO MUCH. I'm especially fond of Captain Marik, an airship captain in the fine tradition of Mal Reynolds and Francis Grimm, but all the characters are excellent, as is the storyline.

2. Secret Project #3 by Brandon Sanderson (July 1). Have I read the last two secret projects? No. Should I have? Probably. I keep holding off for a special occasion, even though I should probably take the advice of that one post that I see every so often about how special things make ordinary occasions extraordinary. I do think I'm justified in this case, as I don't want to start a Sanderson book at 10:30 or 11 at night, and that's mostly when I'm getting my reading time these days . . . but I digress. The point is: Secret Project #3 is coming in just a few weeks! This is another Cosmere story, it's narrated by Hoid, and it sounds like a very cool blend of fantasy and sci-fi.

3. Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology (July 6). Y'all have heard about this one a few times already, but that's no reason to leave it off the list. This anthology contains eight enchanting stories of magical dogs, each with a guaranteed happy ending. And, as I've mentioned before, one of those stories is my own "Grim Guardian," a Southern-flavored, slightly haunted tale of mystery. This release has had a few hiccups, but we're still moving forward, and I'm excited for y'all to read it!

4. No One Leaves the Castle (August 15). Y'all know I am always down for a good blend of fantasy and mystery, especially murder mystery, so I was hooked on this book from my first hearing the premise . . . But then I found out that it's set in the world of the Hero's Guide/League of Princes series. And it features one of the best characters from that series. (Not going to say which one, but you can probably guess if you read the synopsis, and if you really want to know, check the reviews.) Spinoffs are sometimes risky, but I am looking forward to this nonetheless.

5. Rook by Wiliam Ritter (August 22). And, speaking of spinoffs and returns to favorite series from my teen years, William Ritter is releasing a new book in the world of Jackaby! This sounds like it picks up after the events of Dire King, though it's billed as a standalone. I loved the initial Jackaby books, but I had mixed feelings about Dire King that mean I haven't raved about the series quite as much as I did in the early days. Still, I'm looking forward to revisiting this world with a new story, and I'm hopeful that it'll bear more resemblance to the early stories that I loved.

What book releases are you excited for this summer? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 16, 2023

You Need to Read The Orb and the Airship

Hey'a! So, as you may remember, earlier in the year, Jenelle Leanne Schmidt ran a Kickstarter campaign for her new series, The Turrim Archive, which starts with The Orb and the Airship. Because I am still a sucker for all things steampunk and because I was insanely curious after hearing about this series on Jenelle's blog for the last five years, I backed the Kickstarter, which meant I got a super-early copy of the first book (before the ARC readers, even) . . . and y'all, it is so good. And since the book releases for general purchase today, I thought now would be a great time to tell y'all why you absolutely need to pick up a copy.

You Need to Read The Orb and the Airship

  1. It's a super cool blend of steampunk and traditional epic fantasy. The scope of the world and half the plot feels very traditional epic fantasy — Wheel of Time-ish, but without the constant distrust and suspicion. You've got the old man in a mysterious tower with equally mysterious powers, the small-town boys heading out into the world, the threat of great and ancient evil, all that good stuff. But many other elements of the world, as well as the other half of the plot, are very much steampunk, with trains and airships and inventors and sky pirates — not to mention that the boys are setting out for military school, not a quest. Or, at least, that's what they intended when they started their journey . . .
  2. Marik and his crew are just plain awesome. If you love Firefly or The Aeronaut's Windlass, Marik's half of the plot will probably be your favorite part of the book. (It certainly was mine.) Marik is a captain in the fine tradition of Mal Reynolds and Francis Grimm, a hero by nature and an outcast by circumstance, loyal to his crew and his principle. I loved his interactions with his crew and how he really does view them as his family. 
  3. The friendship between the boys is lovely. Grayden and Wynn, our main characters for the more epic fantasy half of the plot, may not have drawn me in as quickly as Marik did, but I still enjoyed reading their friendship. Though they're very different people, they've known each other forever, and they support each other and have each other's backs in the best way. Things just get better once Berengar joins their group — I can't say a lot about him because of spoilers, but he's my favorite character after Marik for very good reason, and I deeply wish he existed in real life so I could be friends with him. He's a big guy, but his heart is bigger than his muscles, and he's absolutely loyal, and I just love him a lot, ok?
  4. The story is satisfying on its own . . . but it also definitely sets you up to wish for more. On its own, The Orb and the Airship is an exciting adventure that brings together exploration and airship heists and daring rescues, along with a healthy dose of character tension, and then brings it all to a highly satisfying conclusion. That said, once you discover the world and the characters — and once you read the last chapters — you'll definitely find yourself eager for the next book in the series. (I know I am !)
  5. There's no stress about stumbling into something inappropriate. A major frustration I have with both steampunk stories and certain epic fantasy series (that may have already been named in this post) is that, even while they're exciting and fun to read, every so often I'll run into scenes or elements that make me decidedly uncomfortable — they may not be explicit, but they're clearly meant to excite in a certain way. That's not a problem here. This is a book that I, as an adult, enjoyed quite a lot, but I'd also have no problem handing it to my preteen, just-getting-into-fantasy self (or to any currently-extant preteens in my life, if there were any). Such books are often hard to find, so I'm glad this one exists.

Sound like your cup of tea? You can order The Orb and the Airship in ebook, hardcover, or audiobook on Amazon now! And in the meantime, what about this book sounds most appealing to you? Please tell me in the comments! (Also, if you've already read the book, feel free to tell me what YOU loved best about it in the comments section! I am all for mutual fangirling.)
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Wags, Woofs, and Wonders Anthology Update

Hello, all! So, if you preordered the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology, you probably recently received a notification that your order had been canceled. If you did, don't panic — the anthology is still happening. Unfortunately, Uncommon Universes Press, which was publishing the anthology, shut down this week. (Read more about that here.) That means a lot of things for the UUP authors . . . but, thankfully, it's not the end of the anthology, which will now be published by Fellowship of Fantasy.

Every dog has its day.

Is there anything as faithful or loyal as a dog? Always ready to lend a paw, cuddle up next to you, or chase away foes (because their noses know!).

This feel-good collection features eight magical stories of whimsical, true-hearted, and rascally hounds. From a blind dog with surprising gifts to a watery pup with a winsome secret to a fiery hound, ready to test his new dog-sitter to his limits. Danger may lurk, but don’t worry! Every story is guaranteed a heartwarming, happy ending.

This sixth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy and Uncommon Universes Press showcases incredible authors dedicated to telling doggone good fantasy fiction that will make you laugh, sigh, and cuddle your own furry friend.

Releasing July 6, 2023

Preorder the ebook on Amazon | Preorder the ebook elsewhere | Add on Goodreads

If you already preordered the book, you will need to preorder it again. The paperback will, I believe, be available on Amazon and possibly via other retailers on or around release day. Additionally, the change in publishers mean that ARC signups are open again! Click here or contact me directly in the comments or my socials if you'd like to receive an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and keep an eye out for more ways to help spread the word about this release. If you have any questions, feel free to leave those in the comments!
Thanks for reading and for understanding about this unusual circumstance.

Friday, June 2, 2023

May 2023 Doings!

Hello, everyone! This has been quite a month, to say the least. What I hoped would be a nice, relaxing month with plenty of writing and time with my sister (and the rest of my family) has ended up being anything but that. Well, the writing has been happening. But as for the rest . . . not so much. Also, on a quick housekeeping note: my blogging will be a bit intermittent in the next couple months (June and July). I have planned posts in both months due to time-sensitive things like book releases and mid-year book celebrations, so it won't be a full hiatus, but I don't know how much I'll post outside those pre-planned, time-based posts and my Doings posts. I don't love taking even a partial hiatus so soon after my last one, but between travel plans and writing deadlines, I think this is the best choice.


  • First off, don't forget that the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology releases in just one month! Make sure you preorder the ebook or the paperback to get your copy of these eight enchanting tales of magical furry friends, including my own slightly spooky story, "Grim Guardian." (This actually has nothing to do with what writing I've done this month, but I haven't promoted the release as much as I usually would, so . . . bear with me, ok?)
  • [Note: I originally said that the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology releases in "one week." This was very incorrect and is the reason I should not write blog posts when I'm stressed and running low on sleep. The actual release date for the anthology is July 6. You should still preorder, though.]
  • In other writing-related-but-not-actually-writing news (that you may have already heard), Through a Shattered Glass was selected as a finalist in the novella category of the Realm Awards! I am absolutely thrilled to have made it this far, so you'll forgive me mentioning it a second time on here. The winners won't be announced until the Realm Makers conference in July, so I have another reason to look forward to that weekend . . . you know, as if I wasn't already vibrating with excitement every time I thought about it.
  • Happily, this has been a much better writing month than April was, with over 30K words and seven chapters added to my Selkie Story, plus a reworked outline for the rest of the book. My weeks have kind of alternated between not coming close to meeting my writing goals and blowing straight past said goals, so that's been interesting. I am, on the whole, happy with what I've written, and I'm looking forward to writing the rest. Hopefully I can get it done before my deadlines! I've also started working on the cover for the story, which will probably be in a different style than most of the covers I've made so far, and that's going to be an interesting challenge.
  • I've also been somewhat productive on the D&D front, though less so. The campaign I run only met once all month, so motivation to finish writing the LOTR module has been low. On the other hand, I started writing the next adventure for the campaign, and I am so excited to get to actually run it. We'll be back in my original homebrew world, delving into some backstory for one of the PCs and tackling a problem that should be a little quicker to solve than most of the last few adventures, and it's going to be awesome. I'm nowhere near done writing, but I'm still exciting.


  • Yes, I've been stress-reading, why do you ask?
  • Actually, that's a bit of an exaggeration — these mostly weren't stress-reads. Some of these are books I've been reading in email subscription form and just finished this month — those include The Wizard of Oz (always a pleasure), The Return of the King (wrapping up the last few chapters so it doesn't take another year or two to finish), and Frankenstein (Victor Frankenstein is a whiny little snot who doesn't deserve the title of mad scientist, and I'm not afraid to say it). Others — mainly Snow Quest Like Home and Thornrose Estate — were beta reads. Both were good, but Thornrose was definitely my favorite of the two (and one of my favorite reads of the month).
  • That said, I had a lot of good reads this month. Behind Closed Doors is book 2 in the Worlds Behind series, and it was even better than Book 1 — I'm starting to develop a theory that the second book in almost any spinoff series will be better than the first one because the first one is laden with too many expectations.
  • I also read and loved two books that people told me about ages ago, but I procrastinated on reading: Lord of Dreams and Echo North. Both were absolutely amazing, with magic and romance and mystery (and mysterious love interests). Lord of Dreams also had fae and portal fantasy, though my enjoyment was dimmed a little by my initial frustration with the heroine. And Echo North was a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, so you can probably imagine how much I loved it. I definitely wish I'd read both much sooner!
  • The month also included two Beauty and the Beast retellings, The Scarred Mage of Roseward and A Thieving Curse, both of which I enjoyed more than I expected. (A Thieving Curse was better, though, and it stands alone despite being the first in a series.)
  • That covers most of my reads this month. The rest is mostly rereads, with the exception of Martha Wells's Exit Strategy, which was cool in the same way the rest of the books in the series were cool. Wells is very good at writing nonhumans in a way that is both alien and recognizable, and the book on the whole was very exciting.


  • So, I have officially gotten my sister into Leverage, and I've continued getting her into Firefly! I am quite pleased to have someone to watch my shows with — it's more fun to watch things with people, but my tastes and schedule are different enough from those of my parents that it's sometimes to make anything happen. My sister, on the other hand, likes most of the same things I do, so that works out better. We've been enjoying Firefly, of course, and it's fun to see her reactions and predictions to the characters and situations that I'm already familiar with.
  • With Leverage, since I didn't want to start over from the beginning, we temporarily jumped ahead to The Rashomon Job, the same episode my friend used to introduce me to the show. It's late enough in the show that you get an idea of the crew's dynamics, but the flashbacks also give you a very good idea about the individual crew members . . . and also, it's just a really fun episode. After that, we went back to where I had left off in Season 2.
  • While I did watch a fair amount of other stuff this month (because we were at my grandpa's a lot, and he likes to watch TV shows, mostly older ones, in the evenings), the only other noteworthy thing is that, having watched one full episode and several partial episodes of Monk, I have come to the conclusion that I do not care for that show at all. Which is, you know, a bit sad because normally I can get behind a good mystery show even if I don't love the characters, but that one mostly just annoyed me.


  • This month has been a rollercoaster, and I would like a break, please.
  • Well, that's not actually accurate. The first week of the month was the rollercoaster. The rest of the month has just been busy.
  • So, yes, May started with much excitement — I was finishing up my second grad school class, my sister was graduating, I was going to get to see some friends in Ohio; it was going to be great. And it certainly started out that way! I submitted my final project for the grad school class on Thursday; it was a little longer than I wanted, but all the extra length was in graphs that I couldn't size down, so I was generally satisfied. Then we arrived in Ohio, my grandfather in tow, on Friday, where we launched into a busy day of helping my sister pack and attending various senior celebrations. I had also made plans to hang out with some local friends Friday evening (skipping one of the senior celebrations that was basically just a chapel service). Sadly, one of the friends came down with a bug last minute and couldn't make it, but I had a pleasant time with the other friend.
  • Then it was Saturday, the day of graduation, and the rollercoaster really started . . .
    • To be clear, the actual graduation ceremony went very well. The president made an excellent speech. Other people also made speeches that I don't really remember. I had a good internal laugh about the fact that formal academic garb seems to have not changed much in the last four hundred years. My sister walked across the stage and got her diploma. That was all fine. And walking around after the ceremony to take pictures of my sister and her friends in their robes also went fine.
    • And then — then, while my grandpa and I were on the way back to my sister's dorm (my parents and sister having gone on ahead for various reasons), Grandpa tripped over a parking lot bumper — fell — hit his head —
    • Thankfully, if you have to fall and hit your head, Cedarville on graduation day is a pretty good place to do it — its biggest program is nursing, after all, and between the graduates and their parents, there were multiple people with medical training nearby, including an EMT and a nurse. They were able to check him over (conscious, oriented, all limbs functioning) and keep him comfortable while someone else called 911 and I called my parents (because, as mentioned, someone else was already calling emergency services).
    • It probably didn't take that long (don't panic) for the actually on-duty EMTs to arrive, though it seemed like forever (don't panic). My parents followed the ambulance to the hospital (don't panic), while my sister and I returned to her dorm to try to get all her things packed before her move-out time (don't panic), wondering the whole time what was going to happen from here (don't panic).
    • Eventually, it was determined that Grandpa had broken a couple vertebrae, and while the exact severity and treatment of the injury was still uncertain, we definitely weren't going back to Pennsylvania that day. So, we made arrangements to stay with some nearby friends until we knew what was happening. Sunday gave us no more answers, though we spent almost the whole the day at the hospital with Grandpa. (Well, I wasn't there most of the day, because he could only have so many visitors at a time, and someone needed to do laundry, and I was the most logical person to handle that — but I still visited in the evening.) We knew he was doing quite well considering his injury, that he could walk and move around and was healthy enough to complain about the hospital food. We just didn't know when he could leave the hospital, or if he'd be able to travel, or anything.
    • (Sunday night was also when I found out about the Realm Awards finalist list, via H.L. Burke congratulating me and another person in her Discord server on making the list. It was an interesting day.)
    • We expected to be there most of Monday as well, so I made hasty arrangements to work remotely that day so I could move my last day of leave to Tuesday (when my dad and I could drive back to Virginia). Then, abruptly, the doctors declared that yes, he could leave (thank God), yes, he could travel back to Pennsylvania with us (thank God), and yes, he could go home instead of going to a rehab center (thank God). He'd have to wear a neck brace for a while, but that was more or less expected. So, we quickly repacked what we'd unpacked, loaded ourselves back in the car, and drove back to his house. From there, my dad and I returned home on Tuesday so we could be back at work on time, while my mom and sister stayed to help Grandpa.
  • Since then, we've driven up to Pittsburgh two out of the three weekends: once on Mother's Day weekend and once on Memorial Day weekend. My mom's stayed up there the whole month, though my sister came back with us after the Mother's Day trip. Both the amount of travel and the not having my mom around have felt really weird, and I look forward to when things go back to normal, even if all the driving means extra writing time without the distraction of the internet. On the upside, Grandpa continues to do well — he was very active before this happened, and I think that's helping him now. Of course, he's also frustrated by not being able to do things now, but better that than any of the alternatives.
  • On the one weekend we didn't go to Pennsylvania, my sister and I went to the Virginia Ren Fest with a friend. That was pretty fun — it's not as big as the Ren Fest in Ohio or Maryland, but they had a nice assortment of vendors, and the location (on the grounds of a winery) was pretty. The one downside is that we managed to go the single day on which they didn't have a joust — just our luck, right?
  • Aside from all that, I've mostly spent the month writing and trying to keep up with all the things that need to be done. Work, at least, has been mostly quiet, though it's starting to ramp back up as we move into summer stuff. I'm also nearly done with another embroidery project (most of which was done during my trips to Pennsylvania so I could have something to do with my hands that wasn't scrolling through my phone), this one fanart for a band I like. I'm pleased with how it's turned out, despite a near-disaster when I spilled water on part of the water-soluble stabilizer (oops).

June Plans

  • I basically need to do ALL THE WRITING to get my Selkie Story done by the deadline, plus I need to do a cover, tagline, blurb, preorder setup . . . all that good stuff. So that's going to be the bulk of my free time.
  • Work will also be busy — there's no big projects, but there are several mid-sized ones, many of which require people from outside the church staff to get me specific information. If you have ever worked in a position where you are reliant on receiving information from people who you cannot directly remind about things like deadlines and the reasons for deadlines, you know exactly why this is stressful. If you've never had such an experience, you are fortunate and should pray you continue to be so blessed.
  • (For the record, I continue to enjoy my day job. And I recognize that the reasons behind my needing information from these people means that they have a lot of other things on their minds and plates. It's just . . . very frustrating when I'm prevented from doing my job due to circumstances I can't control, knowing that the same people who aren't getting me the information are the ones who may very well be mad when things aren't done right because they didn't get me that info by when I needed it, even with a month's worth of warning.) 
  • Also looking forward to doing some travel to places that aren't Pennsylvania — by which I mean that I'm going to drive eight hours (with my sister) to visit a friend and attend a book signing. It's going to be great. It will make writing difficult. But it'll still be great. I'll also be prepping for Realm Makers in July, which will be a bit less intense than last year since I still have most of what I put together for last year. So that'll be good.
  • Finally, I will continue working on my crafts. Not sure what I'll do next after I finish my current embroidery piece, but I have a bunch of ideas, so I'm sure I'll figure something out. Or maybe I'll go back to working on some knitting and crocheting so I can have some new wraps ready for fall. We'll see.

How was your May? What are you looking forward to in June? Do you think that second books in spinoff series tend to be better than first books? Have you been traveling much, or do you have any exciting travel plans? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!