Spur of the moment
morning suburban hiking
to slide, climb, and run.
Spur of the moment
morning suburban hiking
to slide, climb, and run.
Legs and feet tucked in
for warmth or for protection
Scouting the terrain
from selective vantage points
to find nesting ground.
I’m not a hunter, by the way. The wife and I have started exploring specific areas of Maryland to identify neighborhoods we like for our next house — we we intend to be our “forever home”. We’re not ready to buy, unless we find the perfect place, but we’re enjoying casually looking with no strings attached or expectations. And it gives us an excuse to take the toddler and the dog on mini adventures in random parks we find.
June was a solid month. We’re already a week into July, so I don’t have many other reflections. Let’s get to it.
So how did I do?!
Can you tell I’m excited about this one? I did it! All it took was a ridiculous surge of 2,100 words on the last night of the month, but I did it.
I started off the month really strong, for once, but started to fall off about halfway through. The final weekend we were at a family wedding, so I have an excuse there. Otherwise, I left too many gaps between writing sessions. Even one or two additional sessions of a couple hundred words would have made that final night far less grueling. But once I got close, I couldn’t not finish.
That gave me 15 days of writing, with 18 total writing sessions. Those three broken sessions where I started writing and then came back later to continue in the same day were strangely helpful. I was also pretty good about writing immediately after work to not lose motivation, even if some of those only took small bites out of my word count goal.
It’s been a while since I’ve really talked about my work-in-progress, so I just want to touch on it for a moment. I’m on my second rewrite and third draft of Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1. I knew I had to rethink some of the big plot points, and there have been some substantial changes. This story may end up ending differently, or maybe even longer than I had intended.
I currently have 22,000 words of what I had aimed to be a 35,000-word novella. But at two-thirds the way there, I don’t think my characters can make it to the original endpoint. So I’m debating whether Uprooted needs to be longer, or if it maybe needs to end in a slightly different place.
I know where I want the characters to end up eventually, but maybe they don’t get there until part 2. I’d be okay with that. Right now, I’m trying not to box myself into a specific ending or a specific word count. I want to finish the story, however I get there. That just means I’ll have even larger changes to make to part 2, which is still in its first draft.
I’m really enjoying the process, though.
We haven’t gone for any hikes yet, but I feel like we’ve spent a fair amount of time outside. We’ve hit the record-breaking heatwave part of summer now, and the toddler is not as interested in going outside. He’s definitely an autumn/winter kid.
On Father’s Day I took him to a field near our house where he literally ran back and forth for 30 minutes.
But with storm season in full swing, it looks like we’ll get a few days where the heat breaks and it will be bearable for a hike in the woods.
GoodReads says I finished three books in June, but it was really more like four. I finished reading The Return of the King towards the end of the month, then spent another few days reading some of the appendices, which carried my finish date into July. Considering I finished three other books in June, though, I don’t care too much about the timing. One of those was the very long In the Land of Time: And Other Fantasy Tales, an omnibus of Lord Dunsany’s work edited by S.T. Joshi. That took me several months to get through, although I took a pretty long break from it.
I enjoyed it overall, but wasn’t a fan of the narrator. I think I need to buy this volume in print and spend more time with it, maybe reading one or stories at a time and letting them stew a bit.
I know the day nears
when we will welcome you home.
Patience is trying.
I was in the mood for a new (to me) fantasy series, and Audible happened to read my mind in that moment and present me with the Dragon Blood series by Lindsay Buroker. This omnibus includes books 1-3 in what is evidently a 7-book series. It was free, so I figured why not? I decided to give book 1 a shot.
I had no expectations going into Balanced on the Blade’s Edge, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a fun fantasy story with an interesting premise and solid protagonists.
The book opens more like a military fantasy, which I was not expecting, complete with all the trappings of a troubled soldier heading into a meeting with a superior officer.
Ridge appears at first glance to be a typical bad-boy cliche of an officer and a pilot, but ends up being more likeable as the story goes on. He’s prideful but tries to do right by those under his command. Sardelle is a little more cunning than her bookish personality would make her out to be, and Jaxi really does sound like a teenager trapped in a soul blade.
I was also not prepared for the more steampunk setting, replete with blimps, open-topped “flyers”, and cannons. This type of technology felt natural for the story, so that I didn’t even realize it was steampunk until I saw the term used in a different review.
There was one particular romance scene that was a bit more than I normally would have looked for, but it also served the plot and the characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this read, and I’ve already decided to give the second book a try.
drawn away from the moment.
Run the mental math.
Uncover all potentials,
but wait not that one.
Eyes bright with wonder
unveiling your thoughts and hopes
one glimpse at a time.
After some lackluster reading recently, I am embarking on an epic quest: to reread The Lord of the Rings! I will not be reviewing these stories in a critical sense, because how could I? Instead, I will share some storytelling insights I pick up as I go along.
It’s been nearly two months since my last entry in this mini-series, so I thought I’d provide some additional thoughts. I am almost halfway through The Return of the King and only just now realizing that I read through all of The Two Towers without a single post like this. Oh well. I’ll try to highlight some story lessons from the last book-and-a-half and then perhaps wrap up this mini-series once I’ve completed book three.
Like last time, I’m just going to jump in. I’ll try to keep these in chronological order relative to the sections/chapters that inspired them.
Tolkien is obviously known for his world-building prowess, but I think there are several examples of this that are not talked about often, and which particularly intrigued me.
The first is several references between books 2 and 3 to the “war in the north”, a large assault that Sauron sent from the Black Gate to the kingdoms of Dale and Erebor, where the descendants of Dane and Bard had to hold their own against virtual annihilation. I haven’t yet read the appendices at the end of The Return of the King, but I know this is referenced somewhere in there.
Still, it’s astonishing to me that a massive part of the War of the Ring is mentioned only in passing. I want to read about the war in the north! Can you imagine how long this series would have been if Tolkien had actually included the different battlefronts? That would have been at least two additional books.
Anyway, I think this point is lost on movie viewers. Peter Jackson’s films, by necessity, focus on the immediate battles shown in the books, but to casual viewers, it makes it seem like the war was fought and won in exactly two battles — four if you count the skirmishes between Faramir’s forces and the Haradrim, and the last defense of Osgiliath.
The second time I really felt the wider world was in the third book when the Rohirrim are marching to Gondor. They apss through the woods, where Wild Men guide them in secret past additional forces Sauron had sent into Rohan, thus allowing them to reach Minas Tirith in the midst of its siege.
In the chapters leading up to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, both Merry and Pippin express to various characters that this coming war feels too big for them to have any real part. This is exemplified in Pippin’s offer of service to Denethor, where he admits that his service may be of little use to the Steward of Gondor, and when Merry pleads with Theoden to allow him to ride with the Rohirrim to battle and is subsequently denied.
Not only did these characters feel the dread leading up to the battle, but they also could not believe their experiences after the fact. Pippin sits with Merry in “The Houses of Healing”, where Merry expresses his own insignificance in this war:
Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not.”Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1965, pp. 179.
I intended for this post to be shorter than previous installments and it somehow ended up longer. I’m cutting myself off.