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!


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