But this? It's my seventh year as a public school paraeducator and I was never this uneasy, even as a substitute! At least I knew that once the school year started, I was definitely going to have jobs to pick up! This is something else. Extra training due to racial and social unrest, extra training due to new regulations for physical contact and sanitation... And absolutely zero preparation for what a wholesale overhaul on the entire system means for someone in my position. People keep asking me what I'm going to be doing when school starts next week, and I have no clue. Based on what went on when they closed schools three months early? Let's just say "Outlook not promising." In a normal school year, I'd be looking forward to spending an entire day before school starts finding out where my position is, what my schedule could look like, and familiarizing myself with the duties involved. At this point, I'm not even sure there is a position for me in this new model. The academic requirements still being held in place are just not feasible--teachers who have spent years perfecting their craft aren't even sure how to plan for even a month of this folderol!
The one thing that I count on to save my sanity is my ability to still write--and write a lot!
Words written: 30K+
Books Read: 3/4
Princess of Undersea: The Cover Reveal!
Augh! I've been talking about this for a few months now, and it's finally here! Stay tuned... this new cover is going to show up everywhere! (At least, everywhere I've digitally inserted the original cover... unfortunately, I can't do much about the pictures of the "first edition"!) Friday, I started off the weekend by revealing the cover for the "second edition" of Princess of Undersea, and posted the "highlights version" from the two-hour takeover on the blog here. << Follow that hyperlinked text for the post, if you missed it! I had a whole lot of fun!
The most important thing you all should know is that I'm only going to post it on Saturdays till I have enough of the "Clan of Outcasts" series to start posting that regularly on Saturday. Once "Clan of Outcasts" starts, "Priscilla Sum" is moving to Fridays until it ends.
Coming Soon: "The Clan of Outcasts, Season 3"!
The Last Inkweaver
That's kind of how some of these scenes are turning out nowadays. I'm so excited to write it in a new way, with other motivations and additional details I missed the last time... and then as I'm writing and developing the characters, I think that I've hit a bunch of "checkpoints" in my outline... only to find out that I haven't, and I'm about a thousand words deep and getting deeper and I need to figure out how to stop this runaway train of words and get back to, you know, the plot, but now I'm worried that the scene has gone on too long and my readers are going to get tired halfway through, but it's so good that I don't want to fix it just yet...
Yeah, that's mainly the reason this is taking so long. Combining Tark and Ronni was definitely the right idea and it's working splendidly--but maybe that is to say it's working too well--I'm having so much fun honing in on this one aspect of the whole sequence that maybe I've extended the timeliness of the story (as in, stretched the minutes and hours it would usually take to fit this much talking in) too far, and I'll end up having to go back and re-do it yet again. Who knows??
At any rate, there's going to be a key moment at the end of this scene that will serve as a marvelous segue into the next scene, and at that point we're pretty close to the end, so yay!!
The "Wattys" annual story-judging contest is still going on, and pretty much the only eligible story I had (requirements were "over 50,000 words" and "complete") was The Clan of Outcasts, so I submitted that... There's no telling whether it will be accepted, though. I haven't had a whole lot of feedback on it! Whereas fanfictions like PotterLock Down and Since We Found Serenity are still getting added to reading lists and votes and running commentary (my favorite!!), and even The Dragon's Mark is still getting votes! I'm not mad about that, at all!
I think I didn't really read a whole lot of books this month because I was so behind on my writing so frequently.
I only got through one ebook this month, and that was Broken Empire: Aftermath by E. A. Copen. I already knew I liked her urban fantasy, so it was fascinating to see her breaking out into the more "space-opera" vibes. The first part of the book is a whole lot of classic political machinations and intrigue and peril--very Isaac Asimov feel to it. Then the twist came, with the addition of a subplot involving some supernatural entities, and there was her signature style in grand form. She has an incredible knack for keeping her characters central to the story, so it's not like they have these grandiose settings and cataclysmic events happening all around them, and the people are just incidental or collateral--she writes in such a way that the reader is drawn into the lives of these characters--the good, the bad, and the morally grey--and you end up staunchly rooting for one or a few characters who might not be the "main character" but they support the protagonist in a lot of ways and you feel like they're just "good people."
In the realm of library checkouts, I've finished two of them: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter.
As far as Knife is concerned... "Heck, Heck, HECK!!" is what I say to Patrick Ness and his emotionally-charged writing. He puts you right into the narrator's head, like Jonathan Safran Froer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and the whole novel is just one big stream of consciousness after the other, blending all together, the over-scribbled "Noise" contrasting with the typical text, the constant use of misspellings (due to the character's lack of regulatory education) like "stayshun" and "destruckshun." I had to pretty much turn off my "English Major Brain" to read that, but I did because I was so hooked on the story that I couldn't bear to stop reading!
Echoes was a really fun and fascinating trip back into the world of Jackaby and his Victorian-era monster hunting. Beautiful and piercing, this one focuses on the bygone life of Jenny Cavanaugh, Abigail's getting to know her, and in the process, learning ever so slightly more about her employer, Jackaby himself. A prime mystery, a stellar resolution, and I'm trying to figure out what I want to read next: more "period urban fantasy" in the form of Throne of Jade, the second Temeraire novel by Naomi Novik, or contemporary urban fantasy with Blood Rites, the next Dresden Files book by Jim Butcher. Maybe I'll just have to do that thing I used to do all the time, where I read the first few chapters of a few different books, and then see which one I feel more compelled to read.
Meanwhile, I'm still plugging away at Hercule Poirot's Casebook by Agatha Christie. It helps, I think, that I'm also watching through the Poirot TV series (again? I don't remember how far I watched the first time around, and only every other episode is looking familiar to me) and a lot of those stories were made into episodes, so I can skip the ones I've seen.
The last book I'm going to talk about (that I haven't really "finished" because I'm still mining for information from it) is The INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala. Between that one and The Anatomy of The Soul by Curt Thompson, I've been learning a ton about how the brain works, how different brains process information, and especially in the former, how specific personality traits (as defined in the Meyers-Briggs Types) affect the perspective and where a person gets their creative energy from, and the optimal environment for creative expression. Golly-gee! There's just something that feels really good when an "experienced person" (not necessarily an expert, but definitely more knowledgeable than average!) lays out these trends and traits they see in common with a certain group of people, and the realization kicks in: I'm NOT abnormal! There are other people who think like me! Somebody's actually gone and figured out how to fit someone like me into the "narrative" of life, and how they can be most effective for the world around them! The whole idea of "finding one's niche" has always been a deep-seated desire of mine, and so to finally know how to use my own psyche within those spaces is particularly liberating for me!
So that's where I'm at by the end of August! What a year this has been... I never anticipated it would turn out like this, that's certain! Now there's only four more months and we're out of 2020... Who knows where I'll be by then? But in the meantime--