Quarterly Ishness + Snowpocalypse 2021

Hi guys!

I haven’t done an Ishness in ages so I thought it would be cool to do a very brief recap of 2021 so far! (Well, the first three months. I actually meant to post this two weeks ago, but anyway. XD)

There’ve been some serious ups and downs, but some good stuff in there, and I’ve missed blogging, so let’s go for it. ^_^

January, February, March (2021)

WRITING

  • January — I finished writing Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole and edited/prepped it for posting.
  • February — I started writing Operation Foxtail again and shared my Girls, Spies, Faeries serial on Wattpad.
  • March — I did some short story editing, wrote random snippets, and did some brainstorming, but mostly was too busy to focus on writing.

If you missed it, you can catch my urban fantasy serial on Wattpad HERE!

There are five episodes, completing one arc/mission, and they’re inspired by The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Snow Queen, following snarky agent Sean and through various shenanigans including selkie shifters, motorcycle chases, portals, and chocolate.

(I’d like to write further missions with Sean, Riel, and company — I’m currently scheming. :D)

Also, I had way too much fun designing that cover. *grin, grin*

(If you don’t have a Wattpad account and it won’t let you read it, check out this sneaky link. ;))

Mostly, I have hit a serious writing slump and haven’t written much at all since November. I feel like I’m in a creative drought, not sure what to focus on, and haven’t been prioritizing writing since I’ve just been busy. Meh. Here’s hoping I can get back to writing more soon, but in the meantime I’m happy to have finished that arc of Sean’s adventures and that I managed a little bit of Operation Foxtail, which I missed. 🙂

READING

(The 20 books I read in the first quarter of 2021)

It’s been a pretty good reading year so far. I’ve read a lot of marvelous books. ^_^

Here’s a list of them all by category!

  • READ ALOUD: Between Frames, Between Homes, Cloudy with a Chance of Dropbears, All the Different Shades of Blue, and Between Walls are part of an urban fantasy series I’ve been reading aloud with the siblings. It’s such fun.
  • REVIEW BOOKS: I reviewed Into the Heartless Wood, Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows, Blood of the Seer, The Icarus Aftermath, Pangur Ban, the White Cat, and Of Myth and Monster.
  • REREADS: Oath of the Outcast and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter were rereads. ❤
  • AUDIOBOOK: Wish You Weren’t Here was my audiobook read of the last few months.
  • COPYEDITED: I was honored to be a copyeditor for Cold Snap (mermaid Snow White), Troll Queen (elven marriage alliance), and Between Two Worlds (Roman/Celtic historical fantasy). They’re all lovely! Between Two Worlds is releasing April 27! (Preorder link and preorder goodies link.)
  • MARCH MAGICS: Witch’s Business, Men at Arms, and The Time of the Ghost were all for March Magics. You can read my wrapup talking about them here.

I’d say that Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows, Blood of the Seer, and Troll Queen are my top three favorite reads so far this year! But everything I’ve read has been enjoyable so far. ^_^

WATCHING

Movies

Ghibli:

I got a collection of Studio Ghibli films for Christmas, so I’ve slowly been catching up on those! I watched a few in December as well, but since 2021 hit, I’ve seen:

  • Spirited Away — Weird but I enjoyed it by the end, especially some of the characters.
  • Princess Mononoke — UM. Too creepy for me buuuut the hero and the music are my fave!!! Like. One of my favorite heroes ever and one of my favorite music themes ever.
  • Ponyo on the Cliff — So. adorable. Aahh! I really loved this one. 😀
  • Castle of Cagliostro — Totally crazy heisty movie, really weird too, but lots of fun. XD
  • I also re-watched Howl’s Moving Castle, because of course!

Other movies:

  • Newsies — I’m not much of a musicals person but Jenelle Schmidt recommended this and I was curious what singing Christian Bale was like, so I watched this on my birthday. XD I enjoyed it. 🙂
  • Reign of Fire — Intense but fascinating! Another recommendation from Jenelle (she gives good movie recs, okay), this was from 2002 so was “futuristic” England set in 2020 after the apocalypse caused by dragons, and it was so. so. unique. O_O A little sadder than I’d like but it was fascinating and I enjoyed watching it overall.
  • How to Train Your Dragon 3: Hidden World — This was a re-watch, but I hadn’t seen it since theaters, so of course I had to revisit Toothless and all the feels. 😉

Basically, lots of dragons and Christian Bale and Studio Ghibli have been the trends of this year so far. XD

Shows

(disclaimer: TV shows notoriously have Content sooo I’m not saying I 100% recommend all these buuut anyhoo…)

  • NCIS — Still watching this sometimes and I adore the characters. Gibbs and Tony are my faves.
  • Stargate — I’m not very far in yet but it’s definitely been interesting. I love the idea so I’m curious to see where it goes.
  • Hustle — Basically the BBC version of Leverage. XD Seeing some of that.
  • The Mandalorian — I finally got to start watching The Mandalorian! Mando is the best and Baby Yoda is so cuuuute and yes, it’s (mostly…) fun so far, though I’ve been too busy to watch anything for awhile so I still haven’t finished it.

And this list reminds me that I need to get back to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter, which are super fun shows I was watching late last year and apparently got distracted from. XD

LISTENING

  • Let’s be real, mostly I’ve just been listening to the theme-song from Princess Mononoke on repeat 98792837 times. XD
  • Also some Christian rock music (which helps me survive my daily stretches I’ve somehow been keeping up with *collapses*)
  • As I mentioned, finally finished Wish You Weren’t Here, which was an interesting NA urban fantasy.

I’ve been thinking I need to get into podcasts but I haven’t yet, and my plan to listen to one audiobook per month this year has clearly gone out the window, but maybe I’ll get back to that soon! (I did start listening to a C.S. Lewis essay collection on audio but I haven’t finished yet.)

LIFE

  • January — My grandfather passed away and I dealt with a lot of grief and stress. It was rough. But there were some good moments in the month too, and some gorgeous snow!
  • February — The Snowpocalypse of Texas happened. Ice and snow (twice in two months? Texas was very confused) and drama. I was okay and didn’t lose power, so I was much better off than so many, but it was COLD and a very dramatic week or so. The snow was pretty, though. 🙂
  • March — Had a lovely, lovely birthday (with cupcakes!) and was pretty busy, but enjoyed some March Magics reading. And at the very end of the month, I got internet at home again (after nearly a year without) so this is why I can blog again if I can find the time. 😀

The Snowpocalypse

I wrote up a brief something about the Snowpocalypse for a writing workshop assignment, so I thought I would share it here. 🙂

If you don’t have time for a mini 400-word essay about it, feel free to skip to the end of the post. XD

Snow Visitors by Deborah O’Carroll

The 2021 Texas Snowpocalypse was the first time I made the acquaintance of subzero temperatures—an acquaintance I’d gladly have skipped. I live in Texas for a reason. But since Mr. Negative Temperatures (the name says it all!) was visiting, at least he brought a more welcome guest: snow. The ice was less welcome, although the icicle formations certainly fascinated!

When it wasn’t too cold, I went on some snow adventures. New experiences were had walking down the street to a park, the road completely covered in snow, snow flurries blowing along it, and the blinding sun reflecting off the pristine white—so bright I wore a pair of sunglasses. My sister dropped hers on our walk; we returned later, looking high and low for the persnickety things. Apparently they were as excited to play in the snow as we were. A truck pulled up while we searched. “Did you drop these?” The driver handed over the lost-and-found missing sunglasses.

We made a snow dragon in the snow and he stayed for days even when the rest of the snow had melted; I think he liked Texas.

(Snow on juniper; bunny hiding in snow; flowers; cat pawprints; ice on desert holly, cardinal in flight)

I took my favorite winter-themed books outside to use the rare snowy background for my bookish photography for Instagram. Books make good snow walk companions too, though I imagine the one I dropped when I slipped on ice disagrees; it was baptized in snow and no harm was done.

Mostly, I holed up in my room, trying to escape the unwelcome wintry company. Even then, they gusted inside: another visitor was Jack Frost who left a pattern swirled gorgeously across my entire window in feathery elegance. It was stunning—although I would have liked it better if it hadn’t been on the inside of my bedroom window . . .

(Icicles connecting a vehicle to the ground; ice fallen from powerline forming a sword shape; moooore icicles; snow on ground; frost on window, though the photo doesn’t do it justice)

I was on deadline for a copyediting project involving an iceberg*, which brought the cold inside in a new way. Editing a cold story, bundled in hat and fuzzy socks, waiting for power to go out, while occasionally running water to keep the pipes from freezing, felt appropriate.

The wintry visitors didn’t feel gone until iced roads melted, allowing shopping, and mail finally arrived in my mailbox—there was no mail delivery possible for a whole week!

So long, snow visitors. I liked the snow, but for the rest of you, maybe next time you could find a better vacation spot than Texas!

*(Cold Snap by Selina J. Eckert; it’s a Snow White mermaid novella and is delightful!)

(snow dragon; cozy socks/journal/fingerless gloves/mug; snow boots)

Upcoming Plans

Whew! A lot has happened this quarter, while at the same time I feel like it was Christmas a minute ago and all I did was blink . . . But anyway.

My plans involve . . . more of the same, I guess?

  • I have many books I’d like to read (I wish I could read faster!).
  • I’d like to blog a smidge more, if I have inspiration, but we’ll see. (I do keep up with Instagram a fair bit these days.)
  • I’m trying to catch up on all my review books and ARCS; I thiiink I’m almost there?
  • I have a fair bit of work these days keeping me busy.
  • I really miss writing and, while I’m not doing Camp NaNo (can’t handle the pressure right now, and quite busy so I don’t think I’d survive), I am hoping to slowly ease back into writing a bit more often. Which, since it’s been basically non-existent, shouldn’t be too hard. XD I don’t know what to focus on, though! *flails*
  • And I usually take a break in May to recharge so I’m contemplating that, but we’ll see.
  • Of course, since I finally got internet again, I’m slowly trying to catch up on things like the 98374983798 emails languishing in my inbox, so there’s that. *cough*
  • And I’d really, really like to get my author newsletter up and running, and a short story edited and prepped for that (The Secret Piano), but for some reason this is daunting me a lot. Heh. (I have a newsletter set up on Mailchimp but haven’t really sent it out ever and I want to switch to MailerLite or something, I think?)

Conclusion

And yep, that’s about it! That’s what’s been up in my world these last few months. 🙂

I’ve barely blogged here since LAST April, so I suppose it’s probably a bit of a shock that Deborah exists over here, but anyway. XD Hopefully this was mildly interesting. Let me know if you recognize any of the things I read/watched? Thanks for reading!

April Ishness + Hiatus Notice

Hey guys! It’s May and I’m here with an Ishness post to recap Camp NaNo and my reading/watching/listening of April . . . and also to announce a blogging/social media hiatus for the rest of May.

Firstly . . . Camp NaNo!

WRITING: Camp NaNo

I successfully completed my Camp NaNoWriMo goal with 10,336 words! *throws confetti*

This was a really interesting Camp NaNo. It wasn’t technically a very large goal, but I’d been really stuck all year before Camp, so I’m just really happy I was able to make it — and, more importantly, to write regularly a couple times per week.

I usually try to stay ahead, but I also tend to binge-write a bit and then miss a few days. It was very noticeable this time and I joked all month about the staircase I was building. XD

But the fact that I was able to regularly sit down just twice weekly and get 2K in every week, despite how busy I was . . . this was a huge boost to my writing confidence and just happiness in general. It’s given me hope that I might be able to keep that up sometimes in the future!

It also really helped that I had a list of the upcoming scenes, and between that and wordwars with amazing friends, I made serious progress on Operation Foxtail, which has now passed 60K words! I’m. so. excited.

I also had a short story attack my brain near the end of the month. This story made me frantically type up notes and snippets on my phone at 2 a.m. XD Here’s hoping I can get back to that and see what comes of it! And I’m hoping to continue on Operation Foxtail as well, but we shall see.

Shout-out to my amazing cabin-mates! I had so much fun hanging out with so many awesome writers on the NaNo site. And thanks, too, to all the people who cheered me on over on my social media. So encouraging!

Overall, Camp NaNo was wildly successful and I’m happy I got about three chapters written and started a short story.

READING

Not a lot of reading happened, but what there was, I found to be absolutely lovely! You can read my brief thoughts on these on my book blog’s post.

WATCHING

I re-watched a handful of fun things:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier — Always re-watch Bucky. 😀
  • The Dark Knight Rises — I’m fascinated to realize that I like this one better than The Dark Knight (even if Batman Begins is still my favorite). I always thought of this one as the dark one and kind of put off re-watching it, but the ending is actually fabulous and makes me happy. So it was just the memory of not knowing what was going to happen while watching it the first time, and how intense it was, that pegged this one as darker (to me). So I like it better than the Joker one, apparently. XD And Blake is awesome.
  • Despicable Me — This was fun to see again. XD (Not pictured.)
  • So . . . apparently superheroes, ish?

I also saw a DVD concert of Celtic Women, which was lovely! I’d picked it up at a library sale years ago and never watched it until now. It made me happy. 🙂

And a smidge of NCIS, also not pictured.

LISTENING

  • I did actually follow through with my plan to listen to Andrew Peterson music. Help, I’ve fallen into this amazingness and can’t get up. Actually, don’t help, because I’m happy here. I listened to a lot of his music across several albums, particularly for Easter, and I love it so much!
  • Brittany Jean’s new album All the Love was another delightful thing I listened to last month! More happiness. 🙂 Do check it out! ❤ (CD here. Links for online listening.) You can listen to the title song, All the Love, which is probably my favorite, on YouTube here! The songs are lovely and catchy and I often find them dancing through my head. 😀 (There’s even a gorgeous version of Never Enough from The Greatest Showman!) Brittany has a lovely voice and I’ve been enjoying her new songs muchly. ^_^
  • Also, Tide Lines had a new song, Innocent and Beautiful, and I listened to that several times. 🙂 Go give it a watch. I believe they have a new album releasing this month. :O
  • I meant to listen to audiobooks again but . . . entirely failed at that. Whoops. XD

APRIL BLOGGING

Book reviews:

LIFE

For me, April was one of the busiest months ever, actually. I was quite occupied with work and copyediting (yes, both from home), and throwing Camp NaNo on there meant that I felt terribly busy basically every day of April. I’m kind of exhausted. 😛

Since there’s not much to share in the life category, here, have a couple of photography attempts and some Easter cake!

A genuine yellow rose of Texas. 😉

Pretty!

Delicious.

MAY PLANS: HIATUS

I will leave you with today’s Instagram photo! I’m so glad I was able to get these lovely flowers the day before Hobby Lobby closed. o.o

Anyway, I’m really tired and just need to take a step back after running non-stop since basically September? I often end up taking hiatuses in May. XD

So I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the rest of May, and also getting off of social media — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads . . .

But! You can absolutely still get in touch by email, and I’ll still be checking Messenger/Instagram DMs, etc.

(And there are a few book releases I’m super excited about . . . so I mayyyy pop back on for a couple of those; we’ll see how I’m feeling. XD)

Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments how your April went! I love you all and I hope you have an amazing May, and I will see you on the other side!

2019 Highlights!

Even though it’s February, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of mini Ishness, recapping the most exciting things of 2019, since I haven’t been very consistent about doing Ishnesses. XD

But I don’t want it to be super long, so this will be mostly in list form! (And will also include some long-overdue thoughts and pictures from Realm Makers 2019 at the end!)

Because everyone loves lists, and pictures, and highlights, right? Right. Let’s get to it!

Some of the things I wrote, watched, listened to, and did during 2019…

WRITING

In 2019, I:

  • Wrote 102,585 words
  • Finished writing KW2 (The Secret of Kedran’s Wood)
  • Wrote an entire novella: KW2.5 (Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood)
  • Got halfway into Operation Foxtail (codename for . . . something else. >.>)
  • Completed Camp NaNo in April
  • Won my 10th November NaNo — a decade of NaNoWriMos!
  • Went to Realm Makers 2019!
  • Hit one million words since I started tracking my words
  • Completed my tenth yearly writing journal

I also wrote three short stories, all of which can be read online:

READING

I read 140 things in 2019, according to Goodreads, which you can check out here. My own spreadsheet says 175 things, but anyway. XD I hesitate to say “books” instead of “things” since many of these were short — short stories, novellas, picture books, etc. About 20,000 pages read, which seems to be usual for me.

I just shared my Top 15 (ish) Favorite Reads of 2019 post on my book blog yesterday, so check that out!

WATCHING

I saw my second-ever play! It was a college production of Peter and the Starcatcher and it was a lot of fun. 🙂

I went to half a dozen movies in theaters, which is . . . rather a lot. o.o I had mixed feelings, depending on the movie, because I never totally love or totally hate everything about any single movie, but the experience is always so much fun, and I always find things to enjoy about a movie (or a book!). 🙂

  • How to Train Your Dragon 3
  • Captain Marvel
  • Endgame
  • Tolkien
  • Frozen 2
  • The Rise of Skywalker

I saw a bunch of other movies too, and some of my favorites were:

  • The Secret World of Arietty
  • The Incredibles & The Incredibles 2
  • Christopher Robin

I’ve also been enjoying old seasons of NCIS, and early in the year I binge-watched the first 4 seasons of Merlin, which was a lot of fun! (And select bits of season 5, avoiding sadness. XD)

MUSIC

This year I discovered (or re-discovered and became a super fan):

Favorite Songs From Them:

Other Favorite Songs:

AUDIOBOOKS

BLOGGING

INSTAGRAM

2019 was my first full year of Bookstagram, and I absolutely loved it!

  • 262 posts
  • Hit 500 followers
  • Successfully posted every day for five straight months (aside from skipping one week for Realm Makers) which I was kind of proud of. XD

My top 9 most popular Instagram photos of 2019

EDITING BUSINESS

So, I don’t talk about it super often, but I do freelance copyediting/proofreading. It’s kept me busy, and I’ve been loving it. 🙂

This last year, I edited (or beta-read, in a few cases) five and a half novels, seven novellas, twenty-some short stories, and two works of non-fiction, for a total of about 700K words. (Not counting reading some of them three or more times.) Y’all, I know some super talented authors. 😉

LIFE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Went to Realm Makers 2019! (More about that in a minute.)
  • Went to a couple of book events and got to meet various authors including Terry Brooks (at Realm Makers) and Douglas Gresham
  • Saw Casting Crowns in concert!
  • Was ML (municipal liaison) for my local NaNoWriMo region for the 7th time
  • Various meetups with authors, writers, and friends (ALWAYS a highlight! I may be an introvert but hanging out with friends who I know well is the best!), and going to a few writing events/write-ins/workshops

CRAFTING

Usually my creativity comes out in writing and not much else, but this last year I enjoyed branching out a little with other artsy things. I think I should do this more often.

  • Two pairs of fingerless gloves (one pair for my costume and one for a friend)
  • Some art quotes for Christmas presents
  • A gingerbread house

REALM MAKERS 2019

Books!

Okay, I know I never did an actual recap post for my 2019 conference experience, for which I apologize. I was worn out afterward, and just never did get around to sorting through all my photos and trying to craft a post about it. I was kind of discouraged about some of the business/industry/publishing side of things, which also made it hard to write about.

Otherwise it was absolutely hands-down my most highlight-ish highlight (shh, I promise I’m a writer) of 2019! Getting to see SO MANY of my dear writer friends, some of whom I’ve only known on the internet (even from as far away as Canada!), and meeting and hanging out with amazing authors (including Jill Williamson and Terry Brooks) and being surrounded by books . . . It was a dream and was even better than the first time in many ways!

While the industry side of it may have been discouraging, I was SO encouraged, on a personal level, by the writers, authors, and friends who I had the privilege and joy to talk with. I’d even go so far as to say that the success of my NaNo was due in part to encouraging conversations I had there. And just the life and atmosphere and joy of being surrounded by authors and books and friends, all of which “got me” is unparalleled. Plus, it was just fun. 😉

I’m not going to do an entire recap here, but I will share a few pictures, which are long overdue, and seem fitting in this highlights post, since Realm Makers was the brightest star in the sky of my year!

(I’m not heading back this year, sadly, but two years of getting to go has been an absolute dream!)

This looked so cool

In a class at Realm Makers

Wayne Thomas Batson taught about balancing life and writing. His was my favorite class! Helpful, but also funny!

I also loved C.J. Redwine’s class about fairy tale retellings

I cosplayed as Lady Selene from Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse — and so did the author! Dreamwalker twins. 😉

We’d be here all day if I shared all the AMAZING costumes at the costume banquet, and all of the amazing friends and authors I got to hang out with! (Which is one of the reasons I never got around to posting a whole recap. What if I leave someone out??) But I have to post this one, because it’s Christine Smith, my “Lauri,” who is an amazing writer and also keeps me on track with my own writing — and she’s dressed as Kuzko from The Emperor’s New Groove! XD Partners in uncrime forever!

I got to have lunch with three members of the Phoenix Fiction Writers: Hannah Heath, K. L. + Pierce, and Beth Wangler! Here we’re admiring the gorgeous copies of a book which had just arrived, by another PFW member (E.B. Dawson)!

Hanging out in the lobby at the hotel

Roadtrip! Traveling to and from Realm Makers with fantasy authors Claire Banschbach and Kendra E. Ardnek was a blast — and sometimes I got to sit with the pretty Oath of the Outcast things! Also, note all the buttons on my bag. XD

How gorgeous is this hotel??

I adore the clock tower. I want to live in it.

Overall, an amazing event, my second Realm Makers!


*awards cupcakes to anyone who made it this far* Thanks so much for reading!

Ishness! NaNo, Christmas, New Year

Oh, hi, my dear Roadlings! It’s been absolutely AGES since I did an Ishness (I think the last one was my Realm Makers Ishness?) — or, well, blogged in general (*cough* I’m sorry, guys!) — so it’s CLEARLY time to do so again!

November, December, and January are the three months which at the blink of an eye mysteriously vanish to wherever missing pens go. So obviously this whole not-blogging-much thing is not my fault. (I jest. It’s totally my fault. And the unreliable internet which has been victimizing me.)

I guess I’ve been busy living life instead of writing about it? And kind of unmotivated as far as blogging goes. Sometimes you just feel tired, you know? But I’ve missed you guys! And writing Ishness posts!

(I . . . er . . . accidentally wrote one after NaNo and then proceeded to get so busy that I never posted it! :O Whoops. So I will just squeeze two more months onto it. As you were.)

So I’m officially back, and I’m here with a recap of my 9th NaNoWriMo, December holidays, and New Year beginnings!

WRITING

November

Writing highlights include:

  • Winning NaNo for the 9th time!
  • Finishing The Siren and the Skyship!!! (Still in the clouds about this one.) *pretends that wasn’t a terrible pun* XD
  • Beating my personal record of words in a day and writing 8K words. 😛
  • Wordwars!! Wordsprinting with friends is one of my favorite things. It’s just so motivating and it’s fun hanging out online with people and getting to chat but also being productive. Seriously, surviving NaNo is so much easier with wordsprints!
  • Finishing NaNo on the 27th!
  • Staying up until midnight on November 30th writing until the very last moment, cheering on one of my bestest writing pals (who won with three minutes to spare).
  • Hitting 58K, my largest wordcount for a single month, ever! (Yay for more records! XD)
  • Staying on par the entire month! (A huge relief. I hate falling behind, and the first week or so it was a serious struggle to stay on that bar, but I managed it because I was determined not to fall behind!)
  • Getting soooo close to finishing KW2. Just two or three chapters from the end. I was super excited. (Plus, finishing “Part 2” of that book, which was a milestone I kept not being sure if I’d ever get to. XD)

It was tough sometimes, and I had my share of days when I just didn’t want to write, or had no clue where to go next in my stories. But I stayed on track, finished one book and nearly finished another, and it was an excellent NaNo on the whole!

December + January

I’m squishing these together because not a lot happened in them, writing-wise. *cough* I had big plans of finishing KW2 in December . . . and then in January . . . and neither really happened. 😛

I did write a couple thousand words across the two months, mostly on KW2. I also finished one writing journal and started another for the new year, did some plotting, and met up with various writer friends (!!) and went to a few writers workshops.

OH! And I did write on my “Writing Day” which happens every January 20th. Because every year on that day, I write something, even if it’s just a snippet, and since I first started in 2010, this was my tenth annual one. Every January 20th for a decade, I wrote on one of my stories, and that’s kind of special to me. 🙂

It was overall a very quiet couple of months on the writing front. I’m trying to forgive myself for that, given the busyness and tiredness and all of that. I did sort of write 58K in November, so a couple of quiet months to recover should be allowed. Maybe?

READING

November – December (in reverse order)

Highlights included Mark of the Raven, Falling Snow, fun Christmas-y stories, finishing my Dalemark re-read, and my new favorite, Echo North! (It’s like a month and a half since I’ve read Echo North and I still have a book hangover…)

January

I got off to a fun start for my reading this year. Highlights include The Fall of Gondolin and A Tale of Time City. You can check out mini-thoughts on each of these in my latest Book Ishness over on my book blog!

WATCHING

  • I saw Mortal Engines in the theater and it was SO MUCH FUN. XD I don’t know why I liked it but it was an absolute blast and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (And now I want to read the book.)
  • I also saw Mary Poppins Returns, which was fairly enjoyable. I particularly liked the lamplighter dance scene!

Other notable things I saw in the last three months:

  • Despicable Me 2 (fun!).
  • Mowgli (. . . interesting).
  • Some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes since I hadn’t seen any of those before!
  • A neat mystery called Ace Wonder which I really enjoyed!
  • I also finished the second season of NCIS and am NOT OKAY. *cough*
  • Re-watched It’s a Wonderful Life and A Muppet Christmas Carol for Christmas. 🙂
  • And I re-watched Captain America: Civil War (because Bucky!) and Snow White and the Huntsman (because Thor wasn’t in Captain America; KIDDING. XD).
  • And I finally saw The Secret World of Arrietty which is MY NEW FAVORITE THING. ❤ (I grew up reading the Borrowers books, and vaguely avoided the movie for years because I was terrified it would be dreadful. But I ADORED IT. And have a sudden need to re-watch it and Howl’s Moving Castle and go find more Studio Ghibli films since those are the only two I’ve seen.)

LISTENING

So, back in November, I started listening to Scarlet by Marissa Meyer on audiobook. I NEVER LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS. (Well. Almost never. Let’s just say it’s an Occasion. A small one, but still.) I was at a write-in and saw it at the library and couldn’t resist picking it up since I read Cinder not long before. This was a Terrible Idea because I was far too busy to finish it during NaNo and it had to go back to the library. However! I did enjoy myself and have picked it up again recently — but that’s probably part of some future February Ishness so HUSH. SPOILERS.

During Nano, I also did a ton of listening to the Piano Guys’ version of Rewrite the Stars, on repeat, during wordwars. XD

December brought Christmas music which I really enjoyed this year for some reason.

In January, I discovered some new music such as Celtic rock and Tide Lines (a new favorite band! This song has been stuck in my head nonstop and yes I am currently listening to it and regret nothing. XD) and some others. I must listen to more!

Continuing my audiobook obsession, I re-listened to The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame in January — it’s very short but HILARIOUS and absolutely awesome and I highly recommend reading it. ❤

LIFE

November

November was terribly busy. In a good way. But whew! I’m very much a homebody and I have no idea how people manage to write NaNo when they’re busy and juggling jobs/school/whatever. I salute you guys. But anyway…

Busy (but awesome) things included:

  • Hardly being home the first four days of NaNo and squeezing in writing here and there, in places like the car on the way to-and-from places.
  • An awesome library book-sale which always coincides nicely with NaNo when I should be writing. XD

 

  • My aunt and uncle visiting, which was so much fun! And taking them to the Magnolia Market/Silos etc. (If any of y’all come see it, let me know . . . 😉 I haven’t seen the show, but.)
  • I’m the ML — which stands for Municipal Liaison — for my NaNo region so I was quite busy organizing events, sending messages, and managing forums. One more crazy thing during NaNo. XD I’ve done it six years now, so I’m kind of used to it, but it’s still busy.

  • Having write-in events every weekend — there was much writing and hanging out with other Wrimos.
  • Which reminds me that some of the best moments were chatting with friends old and new — at home, at booksales, at a writer class, at write-ins, in line for a bookstore. I’m an introvert sometimes, but you know, people are awesome too. ❤

  • Thanksgiving. Food. Pies. Nom nom.

Standing in line getting some reading in!

  • Standing in line on Black Friday for the first time in my life, because a bookstore was having a special giveaway. Yes. This is the only thing that can tempt me to go shopping on such a day. Or… ever, in general. XD (Boooooks.) (Fortunately, the bookworm line was small and orderly and we had some lovely bookish chats.)
  • Spontaneously crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves instead of writing. They’ve been so handy!
  • Going for “like-a-quick-lady” walks and runs with my audiobook, and plot-walks with my sister. (Plot walks are magical and consist of talking out the problems in the plot so that I know what to write next.)

Found a cozy bench/garden to curl up with this book while at a fair. ❤

  • Sneaking in reading occasionally, like at a fair and in the car.
  • Some beta-reading and editing, which are of course the best jobs during an already bookish month. 😉
  • In fact, one of the things I beta-read during NaNo is coming out later this month! It’s an utterly charming retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, called The Road to Bremen, and I adored it!

December Highlights

  • A post-NaNo celebration with cupcakes!

Otter!

  • A fun trip to the zoo with lovely writer friends!

  • Meeting up with some friends from Realm Makers and having a blast chatting over lunch!

  • Sending Christmas cards.
  • A few days of just relaxing and reading Diana Wynne Jones. I kind of needed that after all the crazy that was November.
  • Going to see Mortal Engines and Mary Poppins Returns with my siblings.
  • Peppermint shakes!

  • General quiet, cozy Christmas celebrations with family.

  • Curling up with Echo North and reading it in the cold near-end of the year! ❤

January Highlights

  • Ringing in the New Year watching some fireworks and seeing a shooting star.
  • Starting new journals! My favorite. 😀 Seriously, my writing journal and my bullet journal are super helpful and fun.
  • Some writers’ workshops.
  • Plot-walks with my sis.
  • Mail! Always makes my day. ❤

  • Started trying to make fingerless gloves again. XD
  • Working on some new habits and goals. I’m trying a new thing in my bullet-journal with a habit-tracker that I color in. It’s been fabulous so far!
  • Saw the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse! It was super cold out but so worth it.

February Plans

Things I’d love to get done this month:

  • Quite a bit more blogging (my poor abandoned blogs!)
  • Read some review books and review them
  • Read other things Because Reasons
  • Finish writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (I KNOW. I can’t believe I’m not done yet but I still want to do this! *collapses*)
  • Also, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is coming out this month and I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS. SEND HELP.

Loved this display at the theater when I saw Mary Poppins Returns


Whew! If you made it through this you deserve a cupcake.

In brief:

I made it through my 9th NaNo and I’m super pleased with how it turned out! And so glad I decided to go Rebel and work on trying to finish two WIPs. 😀 There were some rough spots and it was one of my busiest NaNos, but overall it went amazingly and was an awesome month.

December was a mix of busyness and lovely relaxing, and much hanging out with awesome people and Christmas coziness. January was generally quietly starting out the year, with a mix of slumps and bright moments.

And now we’re well into February and EXCUSE ME, Mr. Time, but who gave you permission to run away like this? Ahem. If you need me, I’ll just be over here wrapped in a shock blanket, wondering how we’re this far into 2019 already. 😛

What have you been up to lately? How has your year started off? And have you missed the Ishnesses and should I bring ’em back? Speak to me in the comments! Thanks for reading! ❤

Steampunk, Explosions (Almost), & All the Writing: May 2018 Ishness

Well… I’m back!

In the famous words of Sam Gamgee (I was creative about the punctuation, but still). Which most people consider to be the end of The Lord of the Rings — EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD EPILOGUE AFTER THAT WHICH SOMEBODY CONVINCED TOLKIEN TO LEAVE OUT OF THE PUBLISHED VERSION AND WHICH I’VE STILL NOT FORGIVEN WHOEVER-IT-WAS FOR DOING BECAUSE REALLY. IT NEEDED THAT AWESOME EPILOGUE.

Ahem.

Pardon my Middle-earth rabbit-trail.

Anyhoo, I’m back from my May hiatus-of-sorts, and I’ll now proceed to fill you in on aaall the writing/reading/watching/etc. that happened while I was away from blogging!

Including snippets and the time my street almost blew up. Ish.


Writing

I wrote 15,000 words in May, which I’m extremely happy about! Especially since that’s more than I wrote for April Camp NaNo. XD

Most of that was due to a lot of lovely wordsprints during Indie E-Con, which had a week-long word-war… which I won due to my 10K words that week. 😀 I was kiiind of really excited about that! I actually wrote 11.5K words that week if you count Sunday — just over the amount of words I’d written in the entirety of April for Camp, so I’m very pleased!

I wrote parts of a couple other things, but mostly I was working on my steampunk-fantasy novel, The Siren and the Skyship, which is flying along quite nicely! I’m extremely happy about this. 😀 I’ve been writing mostly out of order, just a scene here and a scene there (but they’re connecting, finally!), sometimes in a messy draft-zero form, and the plot is still being stubborn and I KNOW I’ll have to rewrite a ton, but at least I’m making progress and having a BLAST. It’s so much fun and I love this story so much. ^_^

I wrote over 13K words on S&S in May, so last I knew, the story has reached about 67K words. I’m getting to write actual-big-important-scenes and it’s fabulous. 😀

In short, I wrote a TON (for me) this last month, and I’m having the absolute best time, and IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. ❤


Snippets (from The Siren and the Skyship)

Keller threw up his hands. “You were tracking me? I always knew the stories were right and stepbrothers are evil.”

“It’s stepsisters,” Gerias protested, “and I’m not evil.”

“You put a tracking on me without my permission. What do you call that?”

“People rarely put trackings on people with permission,” Tasmania mused.

Gerias sighed. “No offense, Captain, but you’re not helping.”

Keller pointed at her. “You are, actually. Thanks for that.” He sent a pointed look at Gerias.

***

“You know, we never did get that time hanging out and chatting, just the three of us,” Tasmania said.

Percy’s face dropped. “Oh. I—I forgot. I had that thing and then— I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t. I know you’re busy. It’s just… this is fun, you know? Just getting to chat for a minute. Alone. Ish.”

Ish here meaning in a ballroom surrounded by about three hundred people,” her brother said wryly.

Tasmania wrinkled her nose, but she was smiling too. “That’s exactly what ish means.”

“Well, you know what? Forget social thingamawhatsits and duties and whatnot; they can go hang,” King Percival said recklessly. “The three of us do need to find a time to just chat—let’s do it tonight.”

“What, after the ball?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“At, like, midnight?” Tasmania raised an eyebrow.

“We’re grownups. We can stay up late,” Percival said bullishly.

Tasmania laughed. “I meant, there’s that whole coronation thing tomorrow morning. Are you sure you want to stay up late talking all night the night before? You’ll be all bleary and half-asleep and red-eyed, and you’ll fall asleep while you’re being crowned or something.”

“Exactly. It’ll be glorious. Why not live a little, I say? And then I can always say anything that goes wrong was your fault, you know,” he teased.

“Just you try,” Tasmania said, smirking.


Reading

I read some lovely books this month!

  • If you’re curious about these, you can click the following links to read my reviews of: Kate’s Dilemma, The Story Peddler, Mythical Doorways, and The Stealthmaster’s Shadow. I really enjoyed all of them!
  • Oh, oh! And Mythical Doorways had some delightful short stories (and it’s FREE, so you should totally pick it up!), including one with my new favorite character, Jayden. I’ve only met him in short stories, but HE’S MY FAVE. If you hear me randomly flailing about him, this is why.
  • Common was SO SWEET. Lovely fantasy/fairytale-esque romantic YA, reminiscent of things like Ella Enchanted. I loved it. ^_^
  • Trial by Song was a FASCINATING modern retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and was SO INTENSE. O_O *collapses* It also ended on a terrible cliffhanger from which I’ve still not recovered.
  • A Sidekick’s Tale was a hilarious western novella — kind of like if a Bertie Wooster story was a western. XD
  • AND THEN THERE’S THE ELECTRICAL MENAGERIE. People. You need this book in your life. It’s a steampunk (ish) novel with a buddy story (kind of) and snark and humor and show business and illusions and murder and danger and plots, and I can’t really categorize it but IT WAS SO GOOD AAAH. I currently have a book hangover from this delightful book. How will anything ever be this good again? *collapses* The Electrical Menagerie is releasing this week. Anyway. If you’re not sure if you’d like to try it or not, you can check out Arbrook Huxley and the Star-Crossed Lovers to see if you’d like more of the same, since it’s a short story which is free on the author’s newsletter and is HILARIOUS. XD (Butbutbut. Carthage and Huxley. They’re my favorites. :D)

(I’m not going to link to all the titles but if you’d like to check out any of these books, you can find links to them on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page.)


Watching


  • So, I saw Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story. And, in an attempt to be a good blogger and share things I thought about them in this post, I wrote up thoughts on both at least three times and erased them and… yeah, no, not going to have opinions because I hate having those (or at least sharing them) and I don’t want to be roasted by (or hurt feelings of) any who feel strongly one way or another. I had mixed thoughts on both, disliked some things, enjoyed others. 🙂 The end.
  • I also randomly re-watched the Lord of the Rings fan-films Born of Hope (THE SONS OF ELROND!) and The Hunt for Gollum. XD
  • And just a few episodes of the usual suspects: Once Upon a Time, Trollhunters, NCIS, and White Collar. And a little re-watching Sherlock. Still enjoying all of ’em in their way! 🙂

Also, speaking of movies, there’s a poster for the next How to Train Your Dragon movie AND AAAAAHH LOOK AT IT!!!! ❤

(I’ll just be over here QUIETLY SHRIEKING about this, thank you. *muffled “squee!” noises*)


Life

I’ve been working on a website and some branding/theme stuff for my writing self, so I’m hoping to share some of that in the next month or so. 🙂


I guess the most exciting thing that happened was my street almost blowing up.

I may exaggerate.

Slightly.

“We may experience some slight turbulence and then… explode.”

Okay, so some roadwork people hit a gas line right in front of my house, and they kinda-sorta evacuated half the block. We grabbed laptops and went down to a cafe thing for a couple of hours and saw reruns of the Royal Wedding, and mostly just hoped they (the road workers, not the royal people) wouldn’t accidentally blow up the block or anything. But it got fixed and we went home and everything was fine. It was just… an interesting day. *cough*


My sis and I have also been jogging occasionally, which has been fun because we’ve named ourselves the “Like a Quick Lady” Writer Fitness Club. Because writers need to get out too.

It’s a reference to a line from Beggar Magic by H. L. Burke:

She started to run, but heard her mother’s voice in her head, “Do you want to be so out of breath you can’t even say ‘hello’ when you find your friend? Walk like a lady.”

Like a quick lady, Leilani decided.

(Beggar Magic is an excellent book I really enjoyed, and if you’re curious to read it, it’s currently the free thing you get if you sign up for H. L. Burke’s fun newsletter. FYI.)

I just like that line, and “like a quick lady” is something I say when I’m in a hurry. XD So when we’re jogging, we say that a lot, as well as “On your left!” (Because Captain America.) Because what fun is jogging unless there are lots of fandom-y, inside jokes? 😉


Also, fresh apricots are STUPENDOUS, I TELL YOU. That is all.


June Plans

Well… it’s June (HOW??) so Realm Makers is less than a month and a half away, which is TERRIFYING (I mean… exciting, too; but still terrifying), so I really have to get on that to-do list of mine and start finishing up some of the projects I’ve been working on, like my official website and things. 😛

So I’ll be focusing on various writerly pre-conference things and trying to juggle life, while also hopefully keeping up with a bunch of book releases and reviews because some little otter secretary seems to have signed me up for a lot of blog tours and review books right when I need to be busy with other stuff. 😉

But that’s how these things go, and I’m super excited for all the books (you can check out all the bookish things going on this month in my Bookish News post on my book blog!) so yeah. It’s going to be fun! I just feel extremely busy. XD


How about you? Thoughts? What are your June plans? Share in the comments — I’d love to hear all about it. ^_^ I hope you have an amazing summer! Thanks so much for reading. ❤