December is here! Christmas is coming! It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s a hectic, busy, (often sniffle-filled) time, but it’s also cozy and fun and beautiful. I’ve been busy with all the reading and writing and watching and living and not so much with the keeping up posting things to this blog of mine.
But rest assured, I have not forgotten you, dear Reader.
Even though I apparently haven’t done an Adventures & Episodes post since… er… May.
The blog is probably going to remain a little quiet here for the rest of the year (though I hope to have my “Best Reads of 2019″ up before the end of the year, as well as a fun “Behind the Scenes” story of how ‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem came to be written), and then I’ll probably be posting fairly sparsely through January, as well… but after January comes…. everybody’s favorite thing… FEBRUARY IS FANTASY MONTH! I’m working on some plans for making this the best fantasy month ever, and if you have any ideas, please feel free to pitch them my way!
So, what have I been up to this past couple of months?
I’ve been reading up a storm this year. I originally set my Goodreads reading goal at 35 books for the year, knowing how much writing I had to get done, but then I passed that somewhere in July, so I bumped my goal up to 50, and so far this year I’ve read 60 books! And so many of them have been exceptional! But I’ll save my fangirling for my actual “best reads of 2019″ post.
The most notable things we’ve watched in the latter half of the year have been two-fold.
Ford Vs Ferrari
Halfway through this movie, I found myself thinking, “The second this comes to blu-ray, I’m buying it.”
By the end of the movie, I had not changed my mind.
This doesn’t happen very often. I generally reserve judgment until I’ve seen the credits roll, but this movie was fantastic. In many ways, it reminded me of Miracle, and in others it reminded me of Tucker: A Man and His Dream, both favorites of mine. There was so much heart to this movie. It’s a true “buddy” movie, and I loved the friendship depicted between Carol Shelby and Ken Miles. I also loved Ken Miles’ family… his wife and son were just fantastic. All of the protagonists were genuinely likable… which doesn’t mean they didn’t have their flaws, but I couldn’t help but root for them.
The only criticism I have is that there is a bit more swearing than I would have preferred (including one F-word). And the movie was a bit mis-titled, as it really felt more like it ought to have been called “Ford vs Ken Miles.” But other than that, this movie was absolutely beautiful.
With the advent of Disney+ we went ahead and subscribed (as we were kind of looking for a way/reason to ditch Netflix anyway (which we are planning to do as soon as we finish watching Miraculous Ladybug… which was SUPPOSED to be on Disney+ according to all the advance lists).
I’ve already posted my reaction to the first episode of The Mandalorian. Suffice to say, that this Star Wars Western has continued to steal my heart with every new episode. It is fantastic and beautiful and it is everything I’ve been wanting from the live-action Star Wars franchise since George Lucas announced he was making prequels… and then… did what he did with them.
If you have Disney+ and haven’t watched the Mandalorian… I highly recommend it. Somehow it manages to beautifully capture all the essence of the original trilogy while telling a completely unique-to-the-Star-Wars-Franchise story. Who’dahthunk?
Not much else of note when it comes to watching things. We also recently watched Star Wars (the very original original… in high def… it was awesome… Han Shot first… and all that… we are such nerds). And we watched Solo again and liked it just as much the second time around, except they should have introduced Xixor and Black Sun at the end instead of relying on Darth Maul yet AGAIN. Seriously. We don’t love him that much, guys. Also, HOW IS HE ALIVE? I know this was explained in the cartoons, I still don’t buy it… and if MAUL is alive, then in my mind, Han Solo has every right to still be alive, as well. Hmph.
Derek and I are re-watching all of Stargate SG-1, and will then probably move on to Atlantis. We’ve been watching Star Trek: Voyager with the hobbits. I’ve watched a couple of ridiculous and girly Christmas movies (The Knight Before Christmas and Another Cinderella Story Christmas) both of which were sappy and ridiculous. (Christmas Knight was actually quite good, even Derek enjoyed it more than he thought he would).
We also watched the new Grinch cartoon with Benedict Cumberbatch. I have mixed feelings about it. They really nailed the first half of the movie, but the ending was one of those places where I felt like, “Man… they just missed it.” And that disappointment kind of detracts from the entire experience. Will I watch it again? Probly. The kids loved it. Will it make it onto my “Christmas movies we must watch every year list”? Not a chance.
After finishing up Summer Princess at the beginning of July, I sent it to my AMAZING editor and dove back into writing Towers of Might and Memory, the fifth and final book in my Fantasy/Gaslamp series: The Turrim Archive. (Actually, there’s even a little bit of actual science in it. I asked Derek the other night, “So… since there is actual science tech in my story that COULD work… can I call it Sci-Fi?” He said, “No.” Very definitively. To which I asked, “Science Fantasy?” and he kind of tilted his head back and forth and said, “Okay, that could work.” So… Science-Fantasy-Gaslamp… this story refuses to stay neatly in a single genre, so I’m embracing the madness and trying to see how many niches I can work in… without actually doing it on purpose).
Before Summer Princess took over my life, I had struggled through 31,000 words of Towers. I added another 3k at the end of July, and then forced myself to take the entire month of August off from writing.
In September, I wrote approximately 8,875 words, mostly bumbling around and feeling as though I was ramming my head against a wall.
In October, I wrote practically nothing. I was extremely discouraged with the entire series, feeling overwhelmed by the task I had set before myself, and questioning if I should even keep trying at all.
When my mom came to visit later in October, she watched the kids one evening while Derek and I went out to have an outlining/book planning discussion and he provided some massive help with the issues I’d been having, as well as encouragement to keep going and that I could, in fact, finish this book by the end of the year.
As you know if you read my NaNo update posts, I added approximately 33,000 words to Towers in the first three weeks of November, then had to take a break for Thanksgiving and family time.
This month so far, I’ve added another 20,000 words to the story in only 11 days and only have about 25,000 left to go. I’ve been writing up a storm, and inspiration has been plentiful, so I think I can actually finish this book before the New Year!
As I’ve been writing a lot, I’ve been listening to a lot of music. Mostly Christmas music (Mannheim Steamroller for the win!). But also quite a bit from The Piano Guys, Lindsey Sterling, William Joseph, and some epic Celtic music mixes like these:
And I just discovered this one recently:
Lots going on here this Fall. We traveled across the country and visited family in Washington, D.C. and dear friends whom we consider family in North Carolina at the beginning of August. We’ve had some family come and visit in October and for Thanksgiving. There have been some unexpected medical expenses and ER visits. We’ve begun the process of finishing our basement. And I’ve been taking the two oldest hobbits to go rock climbing every week, one of my favorite hobbies that I haven’t gotten to do in a couple of years. L and N are LOVING it and I am enjoying getting to do something I enjoy, as well!
Our family ventured out to cut down a real tree for the first time ever and fun was had by all!
We got 10-12 inches of snow the week of Thanksgiving, and another 3-4 inches earlier this week, so the holiday season has been draped in a blanket of glittering white. It has also gotten bitterly cold, temperatures dropping down to -11.
The girls are both in our church’s Christmas Musical this coming weekend, and they are excited about that.
I am presenting with my illustrator at a women’s tea at our church on how we came to create our children’s book… we’re both a little nervous, so if you think of me on Saturday for any reason, prayers would be appreciated!
And now it’s your turn! What have you been up to this past Fall? Any Christmas plans or traditions you are especially looking forward to?