This last month has been somewhat crazy (I think I called my upcoming schedule ‘frightening’ in December’s overview). The crazy involved, amongst many other events, having to grade presentations, papers, and exams of 70 students, spending many hours caught up in hospitals in support of my family, the editing of a massive sci-fi novel, and figuring out the Introduction to Gender Studies course I will be coordinating from next week onward.
Luckily, I knew all these things were coming way back in November, so I went easy on this month’s to-do list. I did write down everything I wanted to get done, but I made sure to differentiate between what I absolutely had to do and what I could skip if necessary. Needless to say, halfway through the month I had crossed out all of the latter. If I learned anything last year, it’s knowing when to give in.
Knowing what January was going to bring, I put a red cross through my planner in November already, vouching not to take on any more than the projects I had already planned. And I almost succeeded. I didn’t take on any big projects, but I did do some more copy-writing for my yoga friend. Mostly because I needed a break from grading (I love teaching, but grading crushes my soul for some reason), but also because I’m really getting into it. In other words, last month’s offer still stands: if you are looking for someone to go over your book ads, your web content, anything, shoot me a message (email@example.com) and I’ll have a look in exchange for an ounce of gratitude or karma points (which means I’m offering something free here, just to be clear).
Next to finishing the developmental edit of a sci-fi novel I already started working on in December, I also started on the thriller from the writer who won my NaNoWriMo giveaway last November. I’m pretty sure it makes me a lousy business woman, but I’m so excited about doing this. I’m even planning to include the two NaNoWriMo camps in this year’s giveaways, so stay tuned if you’re thinking of signing up for one of those.
Just before the end of the year, I started reading M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts, and the one thing that kept me from finishing it sooner was that I couldn’t read it while I was eating. Or just before I went to sleep (I had a terrifying nightmare featuring *I’m not going to spoil anything*). Aside from that, I see what all the fuss was about. It gives such a brilliant twist to the dystopian genre. I don’t want to give away anything, but if you haven’t picked it up, go do so.
Another book I finished this month was The Magical Year by Danu Forest. I’ve been reading bits and pieces of this book as I was working on my novel last year, but since I’m expecting my manuscript back from my beta readers tomorrow, I finally found the focus to do some solid research after pagan customs, belief systems, and rituals. What better way to recharge after a day filled with grading, editing, and bureaucratic university nonsense?
Earlier this month, I bought some more books on the topic (always a smart move with piles and piles of grading left to do…). Obviously, I couldn’t help myself and I’m near done with Elen Sentier’s The Celtic Chakras as we speak. I can’t wait for all that knowledge to seep through my manuscript as I rewrite.
Because I’m trying to see research as work, I started on Outlander, the first novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (if you have Netflix, you know what I’m talking about). I loved the first few chapters—turns out the series sounds very similar, and I always appreciate that—but then the research bug got me and I had to put it aside. I’m going to finish it though, Outlander was one of those series that made me go ‘Is there a book? I need to read the book!’, I just need to find the head space to read some fiction.
No novels for me this month, just books for research.
Aside from The Celtic Chakras by Elen Sentier, I bought Danu Forest’s The Druid Shaman because I have a druid order in my series that needs to be fleshed out, and two other druid-like characters that could use something extra.
I also got a copy of Raymond Buckland’s Scottish Witchcraft and Magick: The Craft of the Picts. Even though I’m writing about magic as a universal power, my series do take place in Scotland and I want to research that region’s particular history with magic.
All in all, I managed to bring some magic into this frantic month, even though it was through research. I’m all in favour of a calm and quiet February, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
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